Sunday, January 21, 2007

2007 NEA Midwest Regional Leadership Conference Great Public Schools for Every Child--A Basic Right

On Friday, January 19th, a midwestern wintry afternoon in the great city of Chicago, Illinois, some 868 member-leaders of the National Education Association gathered for the annual Midwest Regional Leadership Conference. Of those leaders gathered, 110 were members of the Iowa State Education Association, Team ISEA.

Friday afternoon started with Early Bird sessions in which I was a co-presenter with NEA staffer, Bill Raabe (pictured here with me at the right). Our session was entitled, "Professional Pay for School Employees: Employees Deserve it and Districts Need It!" My portion of the presentation centered around Team ISEA's salary campaign, "We're Worth It!" It was a treat to work with Bill Raabe--who is Director, NEA Collective Bargaining and Member Advocacy. We had nearly 90 participants in our session!

State delegation meetings ocurred twice during the conference. One focus of our caucus was to solicit contributions from Team ISEA members for the "NEA Fund for Children and Public Education". Our efforts were headed up by members of our leadership team, pictured here on the left. Seated (from left to right) are Chris Bern, ISEA Vice President; Gayle Jeffers, NEA Director; Jim Young, NEA Director; and Paula Logan, ISEA Treasurer. Suggested contributions were $35.00 per participant. Iowa was one of two of the nine Midwest states to have 100% of our group contribute! In addition, we were extra proud of the grand total collected from Team ISEA, $ 4,923.23! We averaged $44.36 per participant! You are most generous, Team ISEA! Contributions at the 2006 MW Regional Conference were $24,789. In 2007 (with several hundred more participants) NEA Fund contributions were $41,228.43. Nice work, Team NEA!

At one of our caucus meetings, ISEA Executive Director, Jan Reinicke (pictured at right), shared with Team ISEA members the priorities delegates to the 2006 NEA Representative Assembly approved as Congress moves towards the reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA)/No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2007.

The first evening was topped off with a great meal and a powerful message from our keynote speaker and Team NEA Vice President Dennis Van Roekel. Vice President Van Roekel is orginally from Manson, Iowa and his first teaching position was in Muscatine, IA. Pictured here (from left to right) Randy Naber (a former student of Vice President Van Roekel's); Kathy Haltmeyer; Vice President Dennis Van Roekel.

Enjoying the dessert reception following Vice President Van Roekel's speech are Donna Phipps, Middle School Art teacher from Burlington; Cookie Clapper, Intermediate Behavior Disorder teacher from Council Bluffs; Mary Canty-Merrill, NEA Midwest Regional staff (and liaison to Iowa); ISEA Vice President Chris Bern, a High School Math teacher in Knoxville; and Kathy Stangeland, a 2nd grade teacher from Dubuque.

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