2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

Saturday, July 8, 2017

My First National Education Association Representatives Assembly Part 2

In case you missed Part 1 (which you can read here), Medina City Teachers Association sent three delegates to the National Education Association Representatives Assembly in Boston, Massachusetts, and I was fortunate enough to be one of them. This post continues our adventure as delegates.

July 1 started with our 7:00 AM Ohio Caucus. We went through a bazillion New Business Items and Resolutions Amendments with plenty of debate.  I was able to tweet out the number of items we covered each day in Caucus, but it got really difficult to keep track of how many items we covered in the RA.

One thing I learned from the Ohio Caucus (and the state and district RAs I attended in Ohio) is Parliamentary Procedure as it applies to voting:

First, there is a movement, where a delegate says what Lily Eskelsen Garcia calls "the magic words: I MOVE. . ." Then the Chair calls for a Second to the Motion.  Each and every time you speak at the microphone as a delegate, you must identify yourself by name and district (and of course by state if you are at the RA). After somebody seconds the motion, the Maker has two minutes to speak to his/her Motion. If there are questions, this is the moment to come to the microphone and ask them; this is called a Point of Information. If you do not support the Motion, you may explain why (in one minute or less). The Chair will alternate between both sides of the debate until somebody moves to end debate. I learned at the RA that the person who moves to end debate is going to be the most popular person on the floor because the debates can go on forever if somebody doesn't end them. A motion to end debate always merits applause. Then we vote to end debate or not, but at this RA we never voted to extend a debate. After we end debate, we vote for or against the Motion by yelling "Aye" or "No" when the Chair asks us to do so.

This is EXACTLY how we look when we vote at the OEA Caucus. . .only we aren't a bunch of British dudes in tights.

Sometimes the Chair will be uncertain to whether the Motion passes, so she will call for votes again. If she is still uncertain, she will call Division. This means that all who are in favor of the motion will stand up when called to do so, and all those against will do the same when it is their turn. This is usually somewhat exciting for two reasons: 1. When you are sitting on your butt for a long time, you REALLY want to stand up and stretch, and 2. When you do stand up, you raise your hands above your head and wave them back and forth while trying to make as much noise as possible.  How can you not love that?

If the Chair is still in doubt, or if a delegate challenges the decision of the Chair, there could be a roll call vote, where someone actually individually counts (instead of estimating) each person standing. That happened once in the Ohio Caucus, and wouldn't you know it. . .that was when I went to the bathroom, so I missed it because the ushers lock the doors when we are in Division. Lesson learned: Don't go to the bathroom. Sigh.

There is another nifty trick of Parliamentary Procedure that every rookie delegate learns, but I will explain that in a different post.

To break up the voting and debate, we had candidates come speak to us, and we were lucky enough to see Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Becky Pringle, and Princess Moss, active President, Vice President, and Treasurer of the NEA. I was thrilled to see all three of them up close. They are excellent speakers with an amazing presence.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia

Becky Pringle

I was even luckier to meet Lily (as she asked us to call her!) face to face at the New Delegate Meeting, which took place in the afternoon.

Hi, Lily! No, I'm not a stalker. . . as far as you know.

Can I tell everyone we are besties?
As if the day wasn't exciting enough, that evening Katie and I attended the Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner. It was a black tie affair, and it was so inspiring. One of the awards went to Jim Obergefell from Ohio, who won the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage.

Jim Obergefell
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

Jim Obergefell receiving his award

I felt so humbled by the accomplishments of each of the award recipients; these people fought hard for rights that many of us take for granted, and I can barely get my bathroom clean on any given day.

Katie, Scott DiMauro (VP of OEA), Me

Lisa and I went to high school together. It was a mini-reunion!

I returned back to the hotel, inspired by everyone and physically and emotionally drained. I had to remind myself that pacing is key; I can't learn everything in one or two days. . .but I sure was going to try my best.

Next post: First official day of the NEARA

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