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VEA News & Advocacy

 

Don’t Miss This Key Summer Training

If you’d like to join forces with your colleagues and really make a difference in your local school and Association, come be part of VEA’s Reggie Smith Organizing School this summer.

Called “Taking Back Our Profession: Next Steps,” RSOS will be held at the University of Richmond July 23-25.

You’ll experience three days of training, helping you hone your organizing skills and gain the knowledge and confidence you’ll need to improve the working and learning conditions in your community. Additional training is available in areas including political action and preparing to be a facilitator in VEA professional development workshops, such as I Can Do It and The MODEL Teacher.

To get more details and to sign up, visit VEA’s website at www.veanea.org. Registration deadline is June 21.


Possible Governing Changes On Tap at VEA Convention

Delegates to the VEA convention in Hampton, April 11-3, will vote on some significant changes to the Association's governing documents. The proposed changes would alter the composition of the VEA Board of Directors, increase the director-to-member ratio, and change the minimum number of members on the board. Another proposed change would allow electronic meetings of the Board and other Association groups.

To learn more, and to be sure your delegates know how you'd like them to vote, check out the proposed changes to VEA's charter, constitution and by-laws here: www.veanea.org/veada.


Use a VEA Mini-Grant to Make It Happen

Every year, VEA helps turn a gleam in an educator’s eye into reality through the Mini-Grant program. These grants are meant to help move an innovative project off your drawing board and into your classroom.

The project you’d like to see funded is limited only by your imagination and the up-to-$500 check you’ll receive. Any activity or unit you can create that is targeted to boosting student learning will be considered.

The deadline for 2013-14 Mini-Grants is June 3, and the winners will be chosen on September 4. To get tips on how to apply, and the necessary forms, go to www.veanea.org/grants. If you have questions, contact Sonia Lee in VEA’s Office of Teaching and Learning at SLee@veanea.org.


Good Advice From Afar

Our legislators might not have realized it, but some of them received some wise advice about education issues during the General Assembly from out of state—way out of state.

VEA-Retired member Jan Hurd was volunteering in South Sudan, but didn’t let that deter her from being a VEA cyberlobbyist.

“I got hooked on cyberlobbying when I was teaching in Virginia Beach,” she says, “and I like the fact that I can still try to improve education in my home state. Parents and teachers all over the world want the best education possible for their children, and I was delighted to try to help make that happen from miles away.”

Finding that retirement offered her “time to do things that I had never even dreamed of,” Hurd was on her second trip to the new nation of South Sudan. Three years ago, she heard one of the “lost boys” of Sudan speak, and it moved her so much that in 2012 she flew there to observe a local school  and do some teacher training.

Earlier this year, Hurd returned to do teacher training in a school run by Harvesters Orphanage, and in two other schools run by an organization called Africa.ELI, and also to work with a project called TEACH, run by the United Methodist Committee on Relief. 

Of the people of South Sudan, she says, “They are wonderful and have an incredible need for assistance, and they know education is their hope.”


NEA Director Election to Be Held at Convention
Delegates to the VEA Delegate Assembly will choose a new member for Virginia on the NEA Board of Directors during a vote held on April 12. There are two candidates for the position, which has a three-year term: Carol Bauer of York County and Malia Huddle of Chesapeake.   VEA’s current members on the NEA Board are Sarah Patton of Covington and Kellie Blair Hardt of Manassas. Either Bauer or Huddle will move into the position currently held by Lee Dorman of Arlington, who is retiring this year.   Here are the candidates’ election statements:      

Carol Bauer, York County I ask you to join me in “Shaping Our Profession’s Future.” I am an accomplished leader, a passionate advocate, and an active Association member who is excited and honored to offer myself as a candidate for NEA Director. I am committed to representing you and our Association, drawing on my proven track record of success and dedication in the classroom as a NBCT, and on the political stage promoting public education, our members, and our future. I have had opportunities to effectively serve on local, state and national levels, and as an Association leader, I have organized numerous, successful events that resulted in attracting and recruiting members. From “Read Across America” to “The Teacher Next Door,” I have used dedication, commitment, and advocacy to provide opportunities to promote public education and effective educational practice and policy. We must continue this important and critical work for responsible reforms, and I ask your support for NEA Director.    

Malia Huddle, Chesapeake Public education is my passion and my life's work. Prior to working as a high school career counselor, I was an admissions counselor and academic adviser at Old Dominion University. I joined the VEA/NEA family 25 years ago. I have served as a local president, VEA board member, and VEA trainer. I am running for NEA Director because I want to ensure that VEA and NEA continue to work cooperatively to champion the cause of public education and our belief in a great public school for every child.      

We, the dedicated teachers and education support professionals, are the education experts. It is time we were recognized as such. I am committed to restoring respect for public education and public educators, regaining the ground lost on compensation and benefits, and rebuilding, revitalizing, and unifying our association. I humbly ask that you vote to elect me the next NEA Director from Virginia.




A MESSAGE FROM THE VEA PRESIDENT

We Made a Crucial Difference

Equitable contracts for teachers has been a front-and-center issue in the last two sessions of Virginia’s General Assembly, and VEA members  have made a herculean effort twice now to see that fairness won the day.

Because of those efforts, here is our bottom-line result, after 18 months of debates, negotiations and votes: continuing contracts for teachers have been preserved. Teachers in our state, despite powerful efforts to the contrary, will not be subject to arbitrary dismissals for inappropriate reasons, such as a personality conflict with an administrator or to make way for a less experienced, less expensive person.

In last year’s legislative session, proposals were floated that would have put every teacher in Virginia’s public schools on term contracts, making them vulnerable to dismissal without the benefit of due process. Because of VEA members’ efforts, including wearing clothes of mourning during the widely-publicized “Black Friday” event, that effort was turned back.

At least part of the reason there was no significant effort to wipe out continuing contracts again this year is the support for such contracts built around the state by local Associations. Many asked their local school boards to pass a resolution of support for continuing contracts—and those resolutions were noticed in Richmond.

Governor Bob McDonnell did propose putting all new teachers on a mandatory five-year period of probation, instead of the current three years. But, because of our work, this measure did not succeed. Instead, at the discretion of local school boards, probationary periods will be determined on an individual basis and can be anywhere from three to five years.

The McDonnell Administration also attempted to change the process required when a teacher contests his or her dismissal. Its opening proposal was to have an employee of the school division, appointed by the school board, serve as the lone hearing officer in such cases. We had serious doubts about how neutral such a person could be.

Our members went on the offensive, and we advocated for changes in that proposal, too, ending up with “an impartial hearing officer from outside the school division.”
 
That hearing officer will be required to create a record of the proceedings and make written recommendations to the school board, with a copy provided to the teacher. No other current practices have been changed, and the school board, as always, has the final authority to dismiss.
 
Finally, we succeeded in removing language from the bill that would have defined “teacher” in a way that would have effectively denied continuing contracts to some resource teachers and other specialists.
 
Keep in mind, we were able to accomplish these things despite a legislature that is not overwhelmingly in support of public education and educators. The plain fact is that elected officials affect just about every aspect of our work in the schools. The current composition of our General Assembly made changes to Virginia’s laws affecting teacher contracts and dismissal inevitable.

But VEA members should feel rightly proud that we had a meaningful voice in standing up and protecting our profession.  


Crisis Information at Your Fingertips
You don’t need to be told about how our schools face issues such as violence, bullying and natural disasters. You also don’t need to be told that educators are committed to the safety of the students in their charge.

But you may not know that to make sure we’re all prepared as best as we can be for unpredictable events, the NEA Health Information Network has created its School Crisis Guide, which has resources to help prepare for, react to, and follow up on a crisis. Knowing what to do can make the difference between stability and upheaval.

There’s also an online tool kit, offering tip sheets, downloadable templates and other resources to implement your school’s crisis plan.

The School Crisis Guide is free for downloading and printing through NEA-HIN’s website. To get it, go to http://crisisguide.neahin.org/crisisguide/.

 


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