The Mystery Man of the NEA

By Vaishali Honawar — July 04, 2008 1 min read

There is an aura of mystery surrounding incoming NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

At the convention, one of the most anticipated moments is when he will make his acceptance speech, likely on the last day of the RA, July 6. It is the moment, many feel, when they will finally find out more about him and the direction in which he might lead the nation’s largest union.

Unlike Randi Weingarten, who will take over the AFT and who has constantly been in the headlines as the president of the United Federation of Teachers for years now, little is known about Van Roekel besides the fact that he is a former teacher from Arizona and a two-term vice president of the NEA.

He looks genial and even approachable, but access to him can be so difficult that one of my Education Week colleagues had to spend days and dozens of phone calls trying to get his photograph for an article earlier this year. He, of course, was not available for comment.

But the entrance of Weingarten, who many see as a reform-friendly unionist like the legendary union leader Al Shanker, is likely to create some strong expectations of Van Roekel to tread a different path from the somewhat more traditional one that his predecessor, Reg Weaver, has taken, especially in what teachers see as trying times, what with NCLB and performance pay.

Will he do it? No one knows...

For now.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NEA & AFT: Live From the Conventions blog.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read