Among the top priorities at the National Education Association annual conference is addressing public education workers being “under attack,” so says the head of Wisconsin’s largest teachers union.
Mary Bell of WEAC says changes to collective bargaining and union cutbacks seen in Wisconsin are part of a national agenda, with other state legislatures are instituting similar policies.
The NEA on Sunday will be honoring the 14 Wisconsin Senators who left town for three weeks to block a vote on the collective bargaining legislation. The union calls the 14 Democrats “heroes of the continuing struggle – not just in Wisconsin, but across America – to protect public employees and working families.”
Republican Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald says nobody should win an award for “abdicating your responsibility as a senator.” Fitzgerald and Governor Scott Walker say the union changes are a way for communites to better balance their books. The Governor’s office recently circulated this article as an example.
Despite challenges from policy makers, Bell says the NEA gathering is an exciting experience. “There’s a tremendous energy that comes when all of these educators come together because our commitment to our students, our schools, and to our profession is really clear.”
The NEA annual meeting runs through July 5 in Chicago.