Teacher shortages, vouchers among topics at NEA Representative Assembly

More than 120 WEAC members are heading to Boston this week for the National Education Association Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly. WEAC President Ron Martin, who headed out early this week for preliminary meetings, said teacher shortages and private school vouchers are two of the key topics to be addressed by the approximately 7,500 delegates.

Martin noted that one of the NEA’s strategies for addressing teacher shortages is its partnership with Educators Rising, a national organization that cultivates highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path to becoming accomplished teachers, starting in high school. WEAC is supporting the implementation of Educators Rising in selected high schools in Wisconsin.

“It’s very similar to like a DECA organization or the Future Business Leaders of America,” Martin said.

Martin also noted that it is important to address teacher pay, benefits and working conditions, as well as teacher autonomy and respect, if we are going to solve the growing problem of teacher shortages both nationally and in Wisconsin.

Martin said the growth of publicly funded private charter schools and private school vouchers is also an important issue because those programs divert critical tax money away from public schools, thereby increasing the challenges public schools face in meeting the growing needs of their diverse student bodies.

“A lot of what we’re going to be dealing with is the accountability part of all schools, public, private, charter,” Martin said. “That we all need the same accountability. We embrace accountability, it’s important, taxpayers have put in a lot of money into different programs.”

Martin says delegates also will discuss topics including implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with a focus on reducing testing and increasing the autonomy of teachers in the classroom. Racial and social diversity and institutional racism are also important topics, he said.

Find out more about the NEA Representative Assembly.