November has been another busy month--but they are all busy with a rhythm that varies depending on the time of year. The month of November is the month during which state leaders gather for a national meeting of the National Council of State Education Affiliates (NCSEA). This year's NCSEA fall leadership conference was held in Miami Beach, and from Virginia, I was joined by Vice President, Meg Gruber, NEA Senior Director, Lee Dorman, and Executive Director, Philip Forgit.
The focus of this year's conference was what to expect in light of the November 2 elections and the political landscape that is likely to emerge as a result of those elections.
This is also the month that the Board of Directors meets for their second annual meeting of the year, and we gathered this past weekend at the Wyndham Virginia Center Crossings. We dealt with a number of important issues, not the least of which was the upcoming budget and our current fiscal condition. We had a great discussion and made some important recommendations that will be taken under review for discussion at our next meeting in January.
As November winds down and December starts, we enter the holiday season and lots of us will be taking time to reflect on the current year which will be passing away and starting another new year.
There is no doubt that our members are feeling less than cheerful about a variety of things that are taking place in the public arena. This fall's release of the so-called documentary, "Waiting for Superman" added to by Oprah's somewhat thoughtless embrace of the anti-teacher rhetoric made this fall a tough time for dedicated teachers who feel that no one is mindful of the sacrifices that they are making.
Our teachers and support personnel are feeling the crunch of less pay and more work. They are, in fact, doing just what the Governor and the Secretary of Education asked them to do last year...doing more with less. As I travel the state and talk to our members and leaders, I am mindful, however, of the toll that this mammoth effort is taking on them.
For the next few days and weeks, I hope that you will be able to find comfort and solace in knowing that you ARE appreciated for your sacrifices, and it is during this time that we need one another more than ever. If the general public doesn't support us, at least we can support each other...and that is what our organization is all about any way, isn't it? We have joined with one another because we believe in public education, and we wish to offer support to one another in a way that we cannot experience when we are not part of a collective whole.
As I sign off, please know that as your president, I am grateful for every single member--and I feel proud and privileged to serve you in this capacity during this difficult period in history.
As you celebrate Thursday's day of gratitude, please remember, "Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart." ~Seneca
Until next time.
The photograph above is of a new sign that was just installed in front of the VEA Headquarters at 116 South 3rd Street this week. It is BEAUTIFUL!