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COMMUNIQUÉ Publication for Members of Central OEA/NEA • Fall 2013 Adrienne M. Bowden, President Educate, Organize, Act! Adrienne M. Bowden, Central OEA/NEA President This is the time of year of new beginnings: a new school year, new students, new bus routes, possible building or worksite changes, and new Central OEA/NEA leadership. With new beginnings we have an opportunity to refocus and reenergize our membership. Each year we say that public education is under attack and this year is no different. There have been attacks on collective bargaining, talks of repudiating local contracts, changes in teacher evaluation, and privatization. This year Central leadership is focusing our efforts and programming in three ways: membership education, organization, and action. Educate Polls suggest that many Americans are supportive of educators’ rights to collective bargaining. It is often said that if unions disappear so will the middle class. While many of our community members support our right to organize, some of our members question the value of their membership. It is important to remind members that collective bargaining is important not only to advance our members’ interest but also the interest of the students we serve. Collective bargaining is the primary vehicle through which we educate the statehouse on policies regarding pay, benefits, job security, and work conditions. Our members’ working conditions are the students’ learning conditions. Local associations help set policy on important issues such as class size, discipline codes, and safety conditions. These are the issues that serve the best interest of the students. It is important for members to remember that we achieve these best practices by working as a collective group. We achieve more by working together. Organize Working as a collective group helps bring people and resources together. United as an Association, we speak with one voice for the growth of the public school systems in our community. As a district we strive to work with our locals and communities to help build and strengthen relationships so that we can show our value to the public education system and the responsibilities of our job roles. Central organizes around our mission statement to “enhance respect for (our) members and public education by respectively shaping and supporting the goals of (our) state and local affiliates”. We are here to provide services that will empower our locals. Central has services to help recognize and develop leaders, provide access to professional development, promote understanding of and a commitment to diversity within our membership, and training to support and increase local awareness and involvement in the political process. As an Association we need to advocate for our interests and those of the students we serve. We are the ones in the trenches who understand the needs and concerns of our school districts. We are the ones who know about the best practices. Policymakers need to hear our stories. It is vital that we mobilize to express that information at the Statehouse. We need to use our positions within the community to let our policymakers know what our community schools truly need to be successful. Act Gone are the days where educators can say, “I’m not political.” With legislation such as HB 1 (OTES), HB55 (report card reporting), HB 59 (budget), SB 21 (Third grade reading guarantee), and So-called Right-to-Work, our jobs have become political. Our collective actions at the statehouse have a continued on page 2

Fall 2013 Communique

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