NEA's Rep Assembly has a decidedly different look this year
University Place EA President Amanda Lackey wants the voice of her members to be heard, so she isn't going to miss an opportunity to join with thousands of other school employees across America.
Normally this time of year, up to 10,000 educators like Lackey would gather in a major U.S. city to shape our union's footprint on American education. But of course this is no normal year.
Instead, a pared-down NEA Representative Assembly is going live online, something akin to the now-familiar video meetings for work, but on a massive scale — and with the twist of paper-mail ballots for secrecy and election integrity. This year's convention will be shorter. Topics will be limited, and most items for discussion will be postponed to next year.
"As a first-year president I want myself and my members to be very active, to understand and to participate," Lackey says. "Although I am disappointed that I won't be sitting in the action for days with my union brothers and sisters in Atlanta, I am still proud that UPEA is sending a full delegation to the virtual RA."
The 2020 NEA RA had been scheduled to take place July 2-6 in Atlanta before the decision in mid-April to go virtual. Business will now be shortened to two days, from noon to 5 p.m. (Pacific time) July 2-3, and results of contested issues won't be known until mail-in ballots are returned and tallied. NEA is using vote-by-mail because of the technical limitations of online voting and the inability to guarantee every delegate would have access to adequate Internet connections in their local communities.
This year's agenda is short. Delegates will elect NEA's top officers and fill all open NEA Board or Executive Committee positions, make an endorsement recommendation for U.S. President, celebrate educator of the year winners, and adopt NEA's Strategic Plan & Budget for fiscal 2020-22 (with delegates dialing in to speak for or against).
Although the full sessions are not publicly viewable online, you can find a clearinghouse for everything RA at www.nea.org/ra, including presentations, highlight videos and more. The first ever virtual Human and Civil Rights Awards celebration will be held online at 5 p.m. (Pacific time), July 1, with details at www.neahcrawards.org/
This year's virtual meeting is anticipated to be a one-time exception, with the thousands of summer delegates heading back to Denver, Dallas, Philadelphia and Orlando in the coming four years.