2023 NEA Representative Assembly


2023 NEA Representative Assembly Summary

Sixty-three Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) delegates went to Orlando, Florida on July 1st, ready to change the world. The changes discussed at the convention were related to educational issues affecting our nation’s students and educators. After four days of meeting for over twelve hours a day, many were still willing to change the world but wanted to go home and sleep for a week first. 

OEA’s world changers got heavily involved in the process of reviewing and debating proposals before the assembly. Lori Burris, president of the Mid-Del Association of Classroom Teachers, brought a new business item (NBI) to the convention floor on behalf of the National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA). The NBI dealt with the need to better promote the NEA Micro-Credentials program, including how governance leaders can utilize micro credentials. The micro credentialing program has been used by NEA for several years to help members dive deeper into aspects of their particular teaching or leadership focus. The problem Burris’ NBI addressed was the fact that not enough NEA members know what it means and/or how they can take part in it to elevate their professional growth. The motion carried and the program will be promoted through a variety of new methods over the next year.

Even when they did not introduce an item themselves, OK delegates related strongly to those brought by others. Sharica Cole, president of the Muskogee Education Association, shared how an NBI that directs NEA to conduct research and collect stories from certified reading specialists touched her heart. A goal of the item was to bring awareness to the advantage of having reading specialists in a district and the struggles of students in districts where there are no longer any. Cole teaches first grade and because of her passion for the science of reading, she is working to become a certified Academic Language Therapist. She hopes nationwide action arising from the NEA RA will help more classrooms in more districts get the blessing of having specialists that can help unleash the power and beauty of reading no matter what circumstances follow the students to school.

Each year delegates have the opportunity to hear from the National Teacher of the Year. This year we had the opportunity to celebrate one of our own. In her speech as the 2023 National Teacher of the Year, OEA member Rebecka Peterson touched the hearts of all delegates. Peterson shared her story on how she combats the slings and arrows coming at public education. Her mantra is, “Every day may not be good, but there’s one good thing in every day.” As Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Peterson wrote about how Oklahoma educators and public schools were doing “good things” every day. Now that she is the National Teacher of the Year, she will be highlighting the good that is happening across the nation – which is a direct contrast to those that spend their time denigrating our public schools and those that serve our students in them. There was joy and pride in the faces of OEA delegates as Peterson spoke and when she ended her remarks to a standing ovation from over 8,000 delegates across the nation, OEA delegates sang the Oklahoma state song. At first, the crowd looked surprised – and then they started clapping and joining in the singing.

It can definitely be said that the sixty-three delegates from Oklahoma made a difference within the NEA world at this year’s convention.  

OEA Delegate Spotlight: Lawrence Lane

President Katherine Bishop, Lawrence Lane, and Vice President Cari Elledge in front of OEA Delegation

The 2023 National Education Association Representative Assembly (NEA RA) was the last one Lawrence Lane, long time local OEA board member and local leader, will be attending. Lane will be retiring from teaching at the end of this coming school year. He has attended more than 30 NEA RA’s.  

For the past 4 years, Lane has represented OEA on the NEA Resolution Committee. Resolutions are the position statements that demonstrate our beliefs and values. Lane immensely enjoyed the responsibility of working with representatives from all the states to discuss and continuously upgrade our resolutions. He says that while the work was important – the fun part of both serving as a delegate and being a resolution committee member was the people he met. He pointed out how he knew Becky Pringle and Princes Moss when they were just delegates from their states.  He has watched them grow into their current leadership positions as NEA President and Vice President. He has friends from Hawaii, New Jersey and several states in between which he enjoys seeing each year at the NEA RA. 

Some say Lane won’t be leaving us for long, he may just be changing delegate categories. The Oklahoma Retired Educators Association (OREA) sends delegates to the NEA RA as well and Paula Squires, current OREA president, has invited Lane to join OREA as soon as possible and become active.

So, maybe those friends he has made over the years will soon get to continue their yearly reunion as retired delegates.