Assemblies and Conferences

The RA Experience

 

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Six members of the Davenport Education Association are in Minneapolis representing all of our members at the NEA Representative Assembly. But if you’ve never been, you’re probably like we were before we attended our first RA: what exactly happens at the RA?

According to the NEA’s website, “The RA is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the National Education Association (NEA) and derives its powers from, and is responsible to, the membership. Various committees, constituencies, caucuses, leadership groups, and delegates from state and local affiliates gather to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business. The RA is the largest democratic deliberative assembly in the world and adheres to Robert’s Rules of Order, except as otherwise specified in NEA governing documents.” This year, over 6,000 delegates are together to conduct this business over four full days of debate.

Your elected delegates represent you to decide how the NEA operates and what business the NEA will do over the next year. At the RA, constitutional amendments, by-law amendments and new business items are presented. The delegates meet with other delegates from Iowa as a caucus to discuss the items that are presented and offer recommendations on how to vote. But as Davenport delegates, our role is to vote based on what is best for our district, our students, and our members. We debated issues from school safety to family separation for immigrants to providing resources for a wide range of issues. Beyond business, keynote speeches and awards, like the Friend of Education, are presented.

John Kealey is attending his 9th RA, “because it gives you the best understanding of our union at the national level, and we are able to set up national networking with other states.”

As a second time delegate, I agree with John that attending RA helps members understand more about what our association does throughout the year, and it helped me be able to explain to members in my building where their dues dollars go. I can also tell you that there is nothing like going into a convention center full of colleagues who are passionate about education, students and educators. There is an energy in the room that cannot be duplicated. Though we may not all agree with each other on the issues, we all clearly have a passion for what we do as educators and educator support professionals, and try to make decisions with our heart based on what is best for our own delegation.

As a first time delegate, Sarah Nelson says, “I am excited to be part of the largest voting body knowing that I am helping make decisions for our students. I learned that delegates also can join some content area caucuses or caucuses for issues that are meaningful to the delegate.”

Another first time delegate, Nathan DeFoe says that, “It was both a pleasure and a great responsibility to be able to represent the great educators of the Davenport Education Association at the NEA Representative Assembly. We worked hard to tackle poignant and controversial issues that plague both our profession and society. I look forward to having stimulating and informative conversations with my colleagues about these issues when I return to the great state of Iowa and the amazing community of Davenport.”

Of course, there is also a little fun thrown in with the business, like having one of our Iowa delegates (a former DEA member, Junior Jimenez) do a dance off with another delegate because we raised $300 for PAC.

If you want to know more about what your DEA delegates did at the RA, reach out to any of us and we’d be happy to tell you about our experience and some of the issues that were brought forth and the positions that the RA took on the issues.

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The delegates you elected this year are: Nathan DeFoe, John Kealey, Sarah Nelson, Lori Palmgren, Maggie Rietz and Ann-Marie Tessier. Feel free to contact us.

Written by Maggie Rietz

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