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The Central OEA/NEA Summer 2015 communique

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  • Summer 2015COMMUNIQU

    Publication for Members of Central OEA/NEA Adrienne M. Bowden, President

    Central OEA/NEA (Central) is one of the ten district organizations established by the Ohio Education Associations Constitution and Bylaws.

    We serve 14 counties: Champaign, Clark, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Highland, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Pickaway, Ross, and Union, plus SCOPE, a statewide organization.

    Central represents over

    21,000 members in over 100 Teacher, Educational Support Professional, Developmental Disabilities, Higher Education and Joint Vocational Support affiliates plus the State Council of Professional Educators.

    Central is divided into 5 areas. Each area elects one representative to the Central board except area 5, which elects three. Central members also elect seven members to the OEA Board of Directors who also serve on the Central board.

    The Board implements policies of the Representative Assembly.

    Who Is Central and What Do We Do?

    Meeting Local Needs

    Recognize leadership development needs of all locals and provide strategies to support them.

    Promote understanding

    of and commitment to diversity in our membership.

    Offer grant programs to meet the needs of our locals.

    Central offers a number of grants to local associations for levy campaigns, growth and development activities, scholarships to conferences, and incentives for participation.

    Political Action

    Provide training and support to increase local awareness and participation in the political process.

    Have a media program to promote public education.

    Central has four Political Action Coordinators who help train, organize and communicate with members on a wide range

    of political activities such as lobby days, candidate screenings, and campaign activities. Central also provides a stipend for up to three members in each local to be Education Advocate Leaders.

    Central runs a nationally recognized Social Media campaign, www.jointhefuture.org, which promotes public education and those who work in it. Join the Future also has a Facebook page and is active on Twitter. You can sign up to receive a periodic email digest of everything JTF published at www.jointhefuture.org/digest

    Training

    Provide quality professional development.

    Expand opportunities for leader involvement beyond the local level.

    Train members in leadership roles.

    Central has four main goals.

    continued on page 6

    Local

    District

    StateNational

  • Summer 2015

    2

    Volume 42, Number 7 Summer 2015

    COMMUNIQUPublished four times a year as a service of

    CENTRAL OEA/NEA, INC.947 Goodale Blvd.Columbus, OH 43212

    Adrienne M. Bowden, President

    Kevin Griffin, Vice President

    Russell Hughlock, Communications & Organizing Coordinator

    Editors Ann Eblin, Judy Furnas & Carla Noll

    Fiscal Manager Tim Skamfer

    Production Russell Hughlock

    Design Pam McClung

    Phone 614-222-8228

    E-mail aa@centraloeanea.org

    The 44th Representative Assembly Central OEA/NEA opened on April 25, 2015, at Gahanna Lincoln High School. The RA not only covered business items, committee reports and endorsements but also fea-tured a number of speakers with messages for strong support for Public Educa-tion. The keynote speaker was Joyce Powell, who is an NEA Executive Board Member from New Jersey.

    She informed the audience about the work that NEA is doing in the legislative arena with both Houses of Congress regarding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Her words about assessments being downsized were en-couraging. She spoke about the proper use of assess-ments and how they are being misused today. NEA believes that assessments should be used to mea-sure and promote growth in every student. She also mentioned that there is positive language that they

    will call the Act Every Stu-dent Achieves instead of No Child Left Behind. She ended with an inspiration calling to the membership that we must continue to fight and stand up for public education.

    Presidents report was given by President Adrienne Bowden who reminded us of all the hardships that we have experienced in Central from failed levies, to cuts in staff and the strike in Reynoldsburg. She went on to speak about the positive items that contribute to the betterment of our schools and our profession.

    OEA President Becky Hig-gins focused on the fact that OEA must continue to make our tree strong at the roots by building personal relationships with our members. It is working because we have added six locals to the Association. She warned the audience that we must continue to create new ways to engage our members because there

    are things coming down the pipeline that can fracture the Association if we are not ready.It doesnt mean that we will roll over and take it from those people that mean to do us harm.

    We have to change our way of thinking and it is going to take time. She went on to say, We have two choices; we can stay a strong and powerful organization or we can go the way of Wis-consin and Michigan. We need to start by telling the public of the good that pub-lic schools bring. We need to shout louder than those that are negative and op-

    pose public education. We need to shout louder and raise our voices higher and take back our profession.

    Another highlight was that Candace Lee from WCMH Channel 4 News was awarded the Friend of Education Award for her fair coverage of the Reynolds-burgs strike. In her accep-tance speech she stated her long time support of public schools is the reason why she values this award over such awards as the Emmy. Education is my passion and if not for being a news reporter, I would be a teacher.

    The 44th Central Representative AssemblyDwayne Marshall, Unit 3 OEA director, Gahanna EA

    (from L-R Kevin Griffin, Adrienne Bowden, Joyce Powell, Tim Meyers)

    (from L-R Kevin Griffin, Candice Lee, Adrienne Bowden)

  • Summer 2015

    3

    The OEA Spring Represen-tative Assembly opened and ended with delegates sens-ing urgency for OEA to take an active stance on behalf of the teaching profession, as well as continued con-cern over the vitality of the union. The centerpiece de-bate occurred about a series of constitutional changes that would permit OEA to hold the Representative Assembly at least once per year instead of the currently required two meetings.The opposition to this proposal argued that cut-ting down to one meeting per year would silence voices and stunt the abil-ity for members to par-ticipate in union activities and decision-making. The proponents held that having two meetings per year is an unnecessary expense and use of dues dollars that could be employed more effectively. Additionally, proponents pointed out that attendance at the RAs has dropped precipitously over the years, raising doubts about its means as a tool for recruiting more activist members.

    Although the proposal gar-nered a 65% majority, it fell short of the 75% superma-jority requirement for consti-tutional changes.

    Three other less contro-versial changes to the OEA constitution and bylaws passed easily. The delegates approved mea-sures that would allow the student representative of the OSEA to have a vote on the board of directors, allow dues to be prorated dur-

    ing organizing campaigns, and allow officer terms to begin in July rather than on September 1.

    President Becky Higgins continued the theme of member engagement in her address to the delega-tion, telling the delegates that educator voices are being heard on the issue of standardized testing and that member representation on the state commission on school testing has led to real, tangible proposals to improve Ohios standardized testing scheme.

    President Higgins also touted the new focus of the association on organiz-ing members by pointing out that OEA has created 600 new members through organizing campaigns. Ad-ditionally, OEA is looking internally at doing things differently as a reaction to anti-unionism prevalent in todays politics by saying that staff and leadership are working together, to find ways to get members engaged and ready for the battles that lie ahead so that our tree is strong and can withstand stormy condi-tions.

    Finally, several new busi-ness items were proposed by delegates, resulting in some spirited debate. On the front burner was a new business item, proposed by Central OEA/NEA Vice President Kevin Griffin and Brittany Alexander of Hilliard EA, for OEA to, educate members and parents about their right to refuse state-wide standardized tests.

    The proposal also required that OEA will request that ODE notify parents of their right to refuse statewide standardized tests that are not required for any grade promotion or graduation.

    The proposal caused a great deal of consternation and debate about the perils of teachers and OEA promot-ing opt out. Ultimately the proposal was amended to direct OEA to lobby the legislature to require ODE to notify parents of their opt-out rights. The amended proposal passed.

    The debate served to dem-onstrate that educator angst over testing is far from settled and that it will likely continue to fuel member

    activism as well as debate at next years RA.

    Lastly, another new busi-ness item moved by Jessie Hemmelgarn of Worthing-ton EA passed easily. The business item directs OEA staff to investigate the feasibility and report back to RA about a statewide program to strengthen the relationships between schools and targeted community and legislative leaders through conduct-ing interactive school visits within every legislative district in the Ohio area.

    This grew out of Ms. Hemmelgarn