Teaching Profession

ESEA Committee Gives Report; Van Roekel Gets Angry

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 05, 2009 1 min read

The chair of NEA’s committee on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Christy Levings (at right) gave an overview of the committee’s 2009 report today. It lists the union’s activities in the 2008 campaigns, its public policy initiatives and conferences, its media outreach, and recent analytical reports on the law.You can find it here (scroll down to “ESEA Committee 2009 RA Report.”)

After Ms. Levings finished, the normally mild-mannered NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel, got more agitated than I’ve ever seen, as he called on delegates to get involved in efforts to lobby federal officials to change the law.

“This is our opportunity with this Congress, with this president, with this Secretary of Education, to take control of our own destiny and say enough is enough on crappy politics that don’t understand what is needed every day by our own children,” Van Roekel said angrily. “Get ready: ESEA reauthorization is on the way.”

Yikes. Where was this rabble-rousing attitude during yesterday’s keynote speech?

His words about opportunity aren’t all talk. Both Mr. Van Roekel and Ms. Levings underscored the good access they’ve had to the Obama administration over the past six months, compared to the previous eight years under Bush. They highlighted an April meeting between the ESEA committee and key personnel from the White House, the Education Department and staffers from the House and Senate education committees.

Van Roekel added that he meets on a monthly basis with EdSec Arne Duncan.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.