Monday, July 6, 2009

Hope -and action- start here!

Delegates headed home from the Representative Assembly to a nation that is led, for the first time in nearly a decade, by an education-friendly White House and Congress. Hopes for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) run high.

The last day of the RA saw a heartfelt, spirited celebration of a leader whom President Dennis Van Roekel called “a legal superhero” -- retiring NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin. Van Roekel also conferred the NEA’s 2009 Friend of Education award on Linda Darling-Hammond, acted on new business items and resolutions, and greeted newly-elected NEA officers.

RA Today/Calvin Knight

The emotional highlight of the day, and one of the most anticipated events of the 2009 RA, was the tribute to General Counsel Bob Chanin.

Following a video retrospective and remarks from President Van Roekel and representatives from the California Teachers Association, the Alabama Education Association and the Buffalo Teachers Federation, Chanin spoke (for the first time) from the center podium.

In addition to reflecting on his 40 years and thanking his many colleagues past and present, Chanin left delegates with an important message in these challenging times as they prepare to depart from the 2009 RA.

Marsha Fabian recieves a kiss from her husband Brian Griffith on the Ra floor the two were engaged at last years RA in Washington DC. and Married this year at the NEA 147th Annual Meeting, 88th Representative Assembly, San Diego Ca. Sunday, July 5th, 2009. RA Today/Calvin Knight

NEA Friend of Education Linda Darling- Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University told the assembly that public schools are under attack, but it’s the system’s fault, not the people’s. It is up to educators to stand up and help lead a reform movement that invests in high quality teaching, equitable schools and real accountability, she said.

“Teachers can transform schools,” Darling-Hammond challenged the delegates. “Do we have the will? Do we have the courage?”

Not all the day’s action was inside the hall. Members of the California Teachers Association marched from the San Diego Convention Center to the governor’s San Diego office to deliver the 10,000 postcards collected from educators on the floor of the Representative Assembly on Saturday.

Classic Chanin Moments

There are RA moments we can never forget, and Bob Chanin is unforgettable:

What is your favorite Chanin moment? Share it with us.

(Scott Iskowitz/RA TODAY)

And because we can't get enough Chanin, here is one more...

Bob Chanin: A classic that never goes out of style

Not a dry eye in the house as Bob Chanin said goodbye to the NEA delegates who have grown to admire, love and respect him over the years...because no one can fill his shoes (or his briefs).

Tribute to Robert Chanin NEA General Council NEA 147th Annual Meeting, 88th Representative Assembly, San Diego Ca. Monday, July 6th, 2009. RA Today/Calvin Knight

Proclaiming that "it is time for a new generation to drive the bus," retiring NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin bid farewell to RA delegates Monday in a moving tribute that drew repeated standing ovations.

Watch his full speech here:

Chanin, who is retiring after 41 years as NEA's top attorney, was saluted by delegates from across the country for his work on critical issues such as collective bargaining, desegregation, vouchers and education funding.

Watch our tribute here:

During his time as NEA general counsel, Chanin argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court - winning four of them - and filed 25 briefs.

Join our Bob Chanin tribute, and share your memories with us.

Linda Darling-Hammond: 2009 NEA Friend of Education

One of the most influential and revered public education policy voices in the United States – that’s how NEA President Dennis Van Roekel described Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, the recipient of the 2009 NEA Friend of Education award. Darling-Hammond is a professor of education at Stanford University and a tireless champion of a teacher-led education reform.

In her speech to the delegates, Darling-Hammond issued a call-to action for educators across the nation to take the reins and fight for nothing less than a transformation of public education – one in which all students have the right to learn and teachers have the support, resources and respect needed to teach well.

“The cost of doing this,” she warned, “will ultimately be less than the costs of not doing it.”

Darling-Hammond called for a renewed commitment – a “Marshall Plan for Teachers” - to hire and support highly-qualified teachers and leaders.

Schools should be transformed into laboratories for “personalized learning environments” in which educators can make decisions about the curriculum, instruction and assessments - and leave the factory assembly line model behind.

Make no mistake, Darling-Hammond said, this agenda will require leadership from educators across the country.

"I know all of you are working hard, day in and day out to educate students. We can do this if we work together – across states and localities, across educational roles, and across party lines.”

Photo by Calvin Knight/RA Today

President Obama greets NEA delegates

President Barack Obama sent a message to the thousands of educators gathered in San Diego to participate in the NEA annual meeting.

CTA marches to protect public education

Members of the California Teachers Association marched today to deliver to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's San Diego office more than 10,000 postcards asking him to stop making cuts to public education.

CTA gathers postcards July 4 on the RA floor. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz)

Schwarzenegger had previously signaled that he was considering suspending Proposition 98, a state spending rule that requires education funding be based, at least in part, on the prior year's funding. Suspending Proposition 98 would allow Schwarzenegger to make additional cuts to education funding, even though thousands of teachers have already been laid off statewide.

CTA, with the help of RA attendees, was able to gather signatures on 10,000 postcards reminding Schwarzenegger that California students deserve a quality public education -- even during economic downturns.

CTA's march has garnered strong coverage in the regional press. To read a report from San Diego's NBC affiliate, click here.