The most important topic at the annual conventions of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers next month will no doubt be the election of new leaders. But officials also expect lively debates on resolutions and initiatives on subjects ranging from the No Child Left Behind Act to union-district partnership initiatives.
Dennis Van Roekel, the vice president of the NEA, is expected to succeed Reg Weaver as president, while Randi Weingarten, the president of AFT’s New York City affiliate, is almost certain to succeed Edward J. McElroy as the leader of the 1.4 million-member union.
For the AFT, this is a historic year: Women are expected to fill the top three positions. Besides Ms. Weingarten, Antonia Cortese, the executive vice president, is running for the position of secretary-treasurer, while Loretta Johnson, the president of AFT’s Maryland affiliate, is running for executive vice president. All are running uncontested at this point, though candidates can file until a day before the election.
John Mitchell, the AFT’s director of educational issues, said the female leadership is “a very important event, both in education and in labor.
“We have many women who are teachers and many strong union leaders who are women,” he said.
At the NEA, too, women will hold two of the top three jobs. Secretary-Treasurer Lily Eskelsen is the only candidate to have filed for the position of vice president. Marsha Smith, a member of the NEA executive committee from Maryland, and Becky Pringle, a former member of the NEA executive committee from Pennsylvania, will vie for the remainder of Ms. Eskelsen’s term as secretary-treasurer.
The NEA expects a record 11,000 delegates to attend the Representative Assembly in Washington over the Fourth of July weekend. The theme is commitment, courage, and power, said Mr. Weaver, who cannot run again because of term limits.
“The theme reflects our commitment to great public schools, our courage to stand up to Congress and other critics, and the power of 3.2 million educators to shape the future of public schools,” he said.
The AFT convention will be held in Chicago July 11-14, and 3,000 members are expected to attend.
The union plans, among other initiatives, to introduce a resolution on peer review, which a handful of its locals have implemented for several years, including Toledo, Ohio, and Rochester, N.Y.
Resolutions are also expected on sweeping changes to the No Child Left Behind law.
A version of this article appeared in the June 18, 2008 edition of Education Week as Leadership Jobs Top Agenda for NEA, AFT