Saturday, September 25, 2010

Representing Our Membership

Much has been said lately about the decisions of the NEA-Alaska PACE. This is the committee that decides which candidates for office we will be supporting as an organization. It would probably be impossible for everyone to agree on every race, but we use a democratic process. The group consists of the entire Board of Directors, including officers and at-large members. Additionally, we elect one committee member for each of the regional directors. The current total of the committee is 61. Every member has a voice and every member can run for a seat on the board or PACE. I routinely encourage those who express disappointment in our decisions to get involved and make their wishes known. This is how we arrive at good decisions and it is how we get real representation.

This weekend I am in Juneau and Fairbanks. On Tuesday I head for Washington, D.C. to represent NEA-Alaska at meetings of our national organization.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Wow! Much has been stated in the last twelve hours via Facebook regarding the actions taken by the NEA-Alaska PACE. First, here are the facts about how the PACE decisions are made and who makes them. The committee consists of the entire board of directors and officers, along with one additional member elected per regional director at our statewide annual meeting. So, the board members and officers have been elected by all members who choose to participate in our elections. The delegates to the annual meeting from each region vote for the members who will represent them in the additional seats on the committee. This is a democratic process. Leadership of NEA-Alaska does not decide who these representatives are in isolation. The process is completely transparent.

In June 2010, the NEA-Alaska PACE selected and approved recommendation of Lisa Murkowski for U.S. Senate. The vote taken for this action was a 2/3 majority of PACE and we forwarded the recommendation to NEA. As of last Friday evening, we still had this recommendation. Yesterday, during the PACE meeting, the committee again chose to endorse Lisa Murkowski, again with 2/3 or more of the group approving. Again, transparent and elected representatives of the membership made the decision.

Why do I support the decision of the committee? I believe the two most important issues at the federal level for educators are the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, and the Government Pension Offset/Windfall Elimination Provision affecting Social Security benefits for our members. Senator Murkowski has been working on finding solutions to problems in NCLB since she went to Washington. She has been extremely receptive to ideas and suggestions we have presented. She has made sure decisionmakers understand what Alaska's needs are by bringing three Secretaries of Education to our state. She signed on immediately as a co-sponsor of the bill to repeal GPO/WEP and has not wavered in her support. I don't always agree with her decisions and votes, but I think about the impact on a daily basis that these two issues have for us. Those who think differently are entitled to their opinions. I will be voting for Senator Lisa Murkowski on November 2nd because she believes in the issues I care most deeply about.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moving Forward

Many new changes are on our horizon. A dedicated and knowledgeable group of leaders, members, and staff has been meeting as an ad hoc committee to work on our organizational technology needs. We have been making specific recommendations and requests to improve our ability to communicate with each other and with our membership. Some examples of the work are improvements to the NEA-Alaska website, a plan to pilot response devices at upcoming meetings, use of technology to provide our board with information, and development of new formats for member engagement. Watch for these and many more changes in the near future!