Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dennis to Delegates D2D Discussion Thread on Caucus Work and Motions to Refer at the RA


"If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."
Dennis Van Roekel 2010 Midwest Regional Conference

If you haven't joined Dennis to Delegates (D2D), you should.  It's a site that Dennis developed to stay connected to RA delegates throughout the year.  I recently posted looking to make some contacts for state caucus building for the NEA Fine Arts Caucus.  We know that Dennis reads these posts.  So, some of our concerns will be brought to his attention through the site.  The conversation ended up evolving.  Some interesting discussion has taken place about our caucus and the effort to "batch refer" items and not allow speakers or caucuses to address their concerns.  Check it out.

Tom McLaughlin posted the following response
August 5, 2010 at 8:56 PM
Re: "Speaking As...": What Every Delegate Needs on the RA Floor

What a wonderful site! The NEA Fine Arts Caucus worked diligently to get some work done at the RA. We're looking to make some new "key connections" here to ask some questions and gather some anecdotal/statistical data on what's going on with arts education in your states, how the budget cuts are affecting programs for students in your states, how teaching positions in the arts have been affected and more.

We are seeing some dangerous trends. If you can help or point us in the direction to a friend/colleague who can help us, we'd appreciate it.


Ed Amundson posted the following response
August 9, 2010 11:01 PM
Re: "Speaking As...": What Every Delegate Needs on the RA Floor

GREAT RA. One of the items passed I am excited about is the publishing of all NEA Caucuses. As chair of the Caucus for Educators of Exceptional Children, I love the publicity. But more important, is the role a Caucus can play for our members. During the RA several ideas for NBI's were brought forward by members of our Caucus. Being familiar with NEA operations, I was able to either guide them to the appropriate NEA staff who could help with the issue or was able to assure them I would take the issue to the appropriate staff in my next visit to D.C. By so doing, we were able to eliminate NBI's around issues already being addressed or just needed to be brought to the attention of the appropriate parties. How many NBI's come from peoples either lack of info or just plain frustration with wanting to feel they were heard.Imagine how many items could addressed by utilizing special interest caucuses and their contacts. Imagine how much time for reasoned debate, if we felt no need to rush( admit it, by the last day of the RA people tend to feel pressed for time.) Just my view, but one I think is worth consideration.

Tom McLaughlin posted the following response
August 09, 2010 at 11:01 PM

Re: "Speaking As...": What Every Delegate Needs on the RA Floor

In response to Ed's post: The Caucuses are already published. And you're right about the power of the caucus and behind the scenes work. I do believe that moving to suspend rules and refer items was abused this year. We allow those who "object to consider" to speak and not those who are referred under suspend. The use of this tactic really shut down some folks who needed to be heard.

As the Chair of the NEA Fine Arts Caucus--like most effective caucuses--we worked behind the scenes to take care of business. However, even if an item can be taken care of with behind the scenes work--sometimes it is important that the delegates hear arguments. Part of the beauty of our deliberation is that so many delegates have their awareness raised and go back home seeing the world through different lenses.

It frustrates me that we allow debate to run on and on and on...early and cut others short late in the game. I certainly admire your outlook on using our caucuses and contacts to get things done. However, I think your caucus and the NEA FAC should make that determination and not have someone who doesn't value the position, refer. So...great post Ed...but we need to consider that our members also deserve to be heard.

Kathi Zamora posted the following response
August 9, 2010 at 11:56 PM

Re: "Speaking As...": What Every Delegate Needs on the RA Floor
I couldn't agree more. As another member of the Fine Arts caucus, I feel we really got it, that communication is key to getting anything done. I think that members need to hear the debate because it is often enlightening. It opens eyes to issues and concerns that some folks are not even aware of. I agree that the motion to refer was abused this RA. Moving large bundles of NBI's this way severely limited member input on the issues. But, maybe, if we work behind the scenes to avoid so many items that can be addressed in some other way, we can reduce the fatigue factor. Just a thought....

Donnie Watkins posted the following response
August 10, 2010 at 7:47 AM
Re: "Speaking As...": What Every Delegate Needs on the RA Floor

As Vice Chair of the Rural, Suburban, and Small Schools Caucus, I agree that behind the scenes work is very important. We did a lot of campaigning for our NBI. Many of the microphones were covered and all slips turned in were in favor of the NBI. However, Dennis then proceeded to move it along and there was hardly any discussion on the NBI at all. As a result, it was narrowly defeated. I feel more discussion should have taken place and people would have been better informed of our plight. People seem to get into a mindset that last day of rush, rush, rush....instead of giving each item its day to inform the delegates. So, we will try again next year, if these small locals can afford to participate.

Tom McLaughlin posted the following response
August 10, 2010 at 9:14 AM
Re: "Speaking As...": What Every Delegate Needs on the RA Floor
The Fine Arts Caucus had every microphone covered for both of our NBIs this year. Because of the bundling of "motion to refer", we weren't allowed to speak about a very important national issue. Its important that our leaders know what's going on with reauthorization of ESEA in terms of how it impacts real students, classrooms and programs. Let's hope that the House passes this jobs bill today. Somewhere between 25-33% of the jobs that were cut, left open or riffed are in the arts. States across the country are looking to eliminate licensure and certification requirements for arts educators to save money. I wonder how many of our leaders know this and the specifics that go with it. My guess...not many. Why? Because we referred NBI 52 to save time. So, as we lobby later this year we will have to do enormous work to let our colleagues know what's going on in the country. Sure, we can communicate this with the NEA behind the scenes BUT since there are so many general items that we are looking to accomplish, I'm not certain that this specific knowledge will get to our members.

We had the mics even more loaded for NBI 86 and there was a motion to close debate after our motion and first speaker. Once again, we had much more to say but at least we were allowed to speak. We must look to modify our standing rules.

Claire Anderson posted the following response
Re: "Speaking As...": What Every Delegate Needs on the RA Floor

Thank you, Donnie, for this post. IF I am able to return to RA next year, I want to be in your caucus fighting for the Rural, Suburban and Small School locals that ALSO help in the efforts of the NEA. We are small, but that doesn't mean that our passion runs any differently.

NOLA was my first RA and I was awed at the experience. My concern is when we stand and wave our NEA Today in the air for a vote. Now how on earth can we come to consensus when it is evident that it's too close to call? I agree that things are hurried along as we near the end of RA. I would rather stay late the night before and address the NBI's on the agenda.

I'm not recalling which US presidential campaign gathered its strength from $100 donations, but we all know that small does not in any way equal weak. If we were looked upon proportionately, we could sit at the same table as the huge locals.

Better start saving now as my personal finances can't take the hit of high dollar convention hotels with July 4, costs all about the city. I loved the RA action but question some of the tactics for getting us out that last day. Rural, Suburban and Small School locals must speak up and be heard. I'm joining your forces and look forward to Making a Difference!

Let's keep plugging until our voice is heard, instead of being silenced.
Claire Anderson, North Lamar TSTA/NEA President, Paris, Texas

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