Monday, April 1, 2019

VEA Made a Difference During Convention!


In addition to staging a lively school-funding protest on the streets of Richmond, delegates to last week’s 134th annual VEA convention also set their sights on making headway in collective bargaining rights, treating education support professionals more fairly, and improving both the teacher dismissal and record expungement process.
Waving signs for the Union’s “Fund Our Future” campaign, the nearly 600 delegates, accompanied by a #Red4Ed school bus, drew both honks of support from passing motorists and media attention on their Friday march.
“The march did a great job of keeping legislators aware that educators and parents are tired of not getting the funding they need,” said Samantha Killion of the Fredericksburg Education Association.
Jennifer Andrews of the Henrico Education Association said it was even more effective because several legislators who were at the convention joined the march: “They showed their full support for public education in Virginia. It was especially great to see them carrying signs and chanting! With the success of the march in January, it was good to gather together and show our support for #FundOurFuture!”
VEA President Jim Livingston brought the convention to its feet Thursday with a stirring address, challenging VEA members to not only call themselves a Union, but to act like one. The way forward, he stressed, is solidarity, vision, and power.
“Solidarity is about having each other’s backs,” he said, “and vision is committing ourselves to a great public school for every student. Power? It’s right here—all we have to do is take it!”
For some educators, power has been an uncomfortable word, VEA Executive Director Dr. Brenda Pike noted in her speech to delegates, but it needn’t be.
“Power is only the ability to act,” she said. “Why shouldn’t we have it, based on the values that bring us together? We’re the ones on the front lines.”
Other convention highlights included the annual awards dinner, at which Joy Kirk of Frederick County and Leroy J. Williams of Manassas earned the Union’s top honors for teachers and ESPs, respectively; a host of awards to education-friendly legislators; and vigorous floor debate on a wide range of issues.
“Our conventions allow me to connect with my VEA sisters and brothers,” said A. Ramon Moore of the Richmond Education Association. “Every year I leave with a better knowledge of state policy and also what’s going on in other localities.”