By guest blogger Liana Heitin
With 94 percent of the vote going her way, Lily Eskelsen Garcia was elected president of the National Education Association today at the Representative Assembly.
Garcia will replace Dennis Van Roekel, who has served as president since 2008, on Sept. 1.
A former Utah Teacher of the Year and the current vice president of NEA, Garcia has been a strong critic of attaching high stakes to standardized test scores.
In an interview just after her election, Garcia criticized Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for his emphasis on using test scores to evaluate teachers. “I believe Secretary Duncan is sincere and I absolutely know he is sincerely wrong,” she said.
Garcia went on to denounce state laws that use reading test scores to determine whether 3rd grade students are promoted, pointing to Oklahoma (though the policy was recently overturned there). And she criticized the “global education reform movement—"GERM,” that she says is seeking to privatize schools and deprofessionalize teachers. She named the Koch brothers, prominent industrialists, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative lawmakers’ group, as threats to public education.
When asked about the Gates Foundation, whose influence on education policy is a constant source of debate among educators, Garcia said she applauds the work they’ve done to promote the Common Core State Standards. “I read those standards, and I love them,” she said.
Concerning her leadership style, Garcia said, “People will know where I stand. There will be absolutely no question. I think that will get me in trouble sometimes.”
As for the other election results, for the first time in the history of the union, three women of color were elected to fill the top leadership positions.
Here’s how the results shook out:
- Rebecca “Becky” Pringle, current secretary-treasurer, was elected vice president with 92 percent of the vote.
- Princess Moss, who served two terms on the executive committee and was president of the Virginia affiliate, just barely took the secretary-treasurer position, with 53 percent voting in her favor.
- Earl Wiman, a Tennesee teacher, was re-elected to the executive committee.
- There will be a runoff between George Sheridan and Shelly Moore for the second seat on the executive committee, as the results were too close to call.
And for a preview of what else Garcia has in store for her time in office, check out this audio clip.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.