Monday, April 15, 2013
During the annual awards dinner held at the VEA convention, the Association bestowed a lineup of awards on individuals and groups that have stood up for public education. Read our press release for a complete listing of honorees here: http://www.veanea.org/assets/document/VEA_DA_2013_award_winners.pdf
Posted by Tom Allen at 8:17 AM
Looking ahead with optimism and excitement, VEA President Meg Gruber used her convention speech to encourage delegates to continue doing the excellent and essential work they do every day in public schools across the Commonwealth.
“I honor your courage, your passion, your advocacy, and your dedication to our profession,” she told the 700-plus educators in the audience. “We still have many miles to travel to accomplish our mission for our students. I know the race you are running now, and I know that our students and their families need every one of you.”
Gruber, on leave from her position as an earth science teacher in Prince William County, spoke of her pride in VEA members and their commitment. “You created the climate in the General Assembly that enabled us to have some legislative successes,” she said. “And I can’t tell you how proud I am each time the cyber-lobby message goes out and the emails flow in to Richmond. Leadership is not just a position or a title.”
She left no doubt about her confidence in public education and the Association’s future, adding, “No matter how many tacks are thrown in the road, we will continue to move forward. That’s who we are.”
Posted by Tom Allen at 7:02 AM
Saturday, April 13, 2013
The Virginia Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education has recommended Terry McAuliffe for Virginia Governor.
“Virginia’s school children deserve a governor who understands that great public schools are the avenue for a better future for the Commonwealth,” said Meg Gruber, president of the Virginia Education Association and chair of the VEA Fund for Children and Public Education. “Terry McAuliffe not only knows this, he is prepared to act on this belief to strengthen public schools and make sure all children have an opportunity to get a great education and thrive in the new economy.”
Gruber added, “Teachers and other school professionals are the foundation for great public schools. Terry McAuliffe is committed to making teaching a more attractive profession for our best and brightest. He will work to increase Virginia teacher pay to the national average and prevent cuts in Virginia Retirement System benefits, because low pay and reduced retirement benefits will discourage young people from entering teaching at a time when we need the best possible candidates to work with our students.”
State funding of public schools through the Standards of Quality is below 2009 levels, Gruber pointed out. McAuliffe, she said, has pledged to restore and fully fund the Standards of Quality. “In his candidate interview with us, he showed that he appreciates the value of public education and how critical it is to expanding opportunities for Virginians,” she said. “As he told us, ‘I never view education as an expense. To me, it’s an investment.’”
Posted by Tom Allen at 5:18 AM
Friday, April 12, 2013
Delegates to the VEA convention passed a new business item this morning taking a stance “that the Standards of Learning tests are not developmentally appropriate and that the tests are harming education in Virginia.”
The item was proposed by Rebecca Jasman of Louisa County, who pointed to NEA Resolution B-66, which states, in part, “Standardized tests and/or assessment should be used only to improve the quality of education and instruction for students.”
Jasman, a fourth grade reading and science teacher, told delegates, “It’s time for us, the ones in the classroom, to say what is right for our students. We know that these tests have harmed education. We are driven by pacing guides and data meetings. Where is the art of teaching? We have become test proctors.
“I’m not saying that all testing is bad. But we need to take back the control of our classrooms and schools from the testing corporations.”
Posted by Tom Allen at 11:57 AM
“We don’t blame the firefighters when there’s a fire, and we don’t blame the police for crime!” thundered Earl Wiman, former president of the Tennessee Education Association and current member of the NEA Executive Committee. “Why would we? Then why are educators being blamed for the struggles of our public schools? Let’s look at the policies and the policymakers instead of the people doing the work every day.”
Interspersing his words with humorous video clips, Wiman used his keynote speech this morning to underscore that those who want to apply a business model to public education are misguided. “Every Pringles potato chip you’ve ever eaten is made in Tennessee by Procter and Gamble,” he said. “And I can tell you that if they get a bad load of potatoes, they send them right back—no questions asked. Public schools don’t discard any students. Have you ever seen a “special education” can of Pringles?”
He also warned of ongoing battles ahead. “There will be more attempts to offer vouchers and more attempts to eliminate continuing contracts,” he said, adding that “educators will leave politics when politicians leave the classroom.” Urging delegates to look beyond party labels when evaluating political candidates, Wiman added, “This is not about being a Republican or a Democrat—it’s about standing up for what we believe about every school and every student.”
Posted by Tom Allen at 9:48 AM
Thursday, April 11, 2013
VEA’s 2013 Delegate Assembly kicked off Thursday evening with a rousing appearance by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who drew enthusiastic applause from delegates when he promised to be “the most pro-teacher governor in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
McAuliffe described his varied career as a successful entrepreneur, which began at age 15, saying that he couldn’t have achieved the things he did without the help of outstanding educators.
“You are my workforce development,” he told the approximately 700 delegates in the Hampton Roads Convention Center. “I can’t accomplish anything as governor unless teachers are allowed to do what they need to do. To grow this economy, we have to have the best educated workforce, because we’ve got to compete with 200 other nations and 49 other states.”
McAuliffe also drew applause for comments in support of raising teacher salaries, supporting pre-K programs, and revamping the way the state handles the Standards of Learning.
Republican candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli did not respond to VEA’s invitation to appear at the candidate forum
Delegates also heard speeches from the two candidates for an open Virginia position on the NEA Board of Directors, Carol Bauer of York County and Malia Huddle of Chesapeake. The election will be decided by electronic voting conducted during the convention.
Posted by Tom Allen at 6:34 PM