Ted Foreman, a music teacher and Site Representative for Release Time Specialists, shares his experiences at the National Education Association Representative Assembly.
In July, I had the privilege of representing FSUTA and the California Teachers Association at the 2018 National Education Association Representative Assembly in Minneapolis. When I first signed up to go, I asked around as to what to expect and one astute previous attendee said ,“It’s like democracy on steroids.” That it was. I was one of 900-plus California delegates representing 325,000 CTA members.
There were a total of 6,200 delegates from across the country and DOD schools. When seated, the NEA Representative Assembly is the largest democratic voting body in the world. We met as the California delegation 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. each day and worked through our stances on new business items, constitutional amendments, resolutions, elections and more. It was fascinating to hear the debate on issues that affect us all as educators coming from so many different viewpoints.
Once we finished as a California delegation, we went to the Minneapolis Convention Center and were seated with other representatives from across the country. Here we would do more of the same but with almost 6,200 other people. I learned that there are deep divisions between the states on issues such as gun control, LGBTQ rights, the NEA taking political stances and more. While these divisions still exist and in some cases hurt like an open wound, it was so good for my soul to see the democratic system work.
In five days of meetings and 55 hours of debate, we debated and voted on 129 New Business Items; 17 resolutions; 19 proposed amendments, bylaws and rules; nine Legislative Amendments; and 14 Policy Statements. There were also elections for the NEA Governance Board (where we worked and succeeded in having Robert V. Rodriguez of California elected to the NEA Executive Board). All of this was in the hopes of bettering education and conditions for students in public schools across the country.
In this crazy world of 2018, it meant something for me to be out doing something, with 6,200 other people, trying to take action to better the world rather than just throwing up my arms. People united is a powerful thing.
Almost as valuable as the daily business of the Representative Assembly were the relationships I made – not with just other FSUTA members, but also my colleagues in the Redwood Service Center and across California. We enjoyed cruises on the Mississippi River, including a firework boat on July 4, as well as culinary delights and trips all over Minneapolis.
The friendships I made have only continued to grow since returning to California. Thank you to all of the people who went and made this trip so special. Thank you to FSUTA for allowing me the opportunity to go. It was a pleasure and an honor to represent my fellow FSUTA members.