In a speech to the 2015 NEA Representative Assembly on July 4, NEA Executive Director John Stocks said a “grand alliance” of Americans is coming together to demand action on social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.
“I believe the conditions are ripe for a movement of a new American majority,” Stocks told the 7,000 delegates gathered in Orlando, FL. “This movement is fueled by growing income inequality, the scourge of racial injustice, attacks on our voting rights, a political system rigged to benefit the wealthy and powerful, the corporate takeover of our public school system, and the threat of global climate change.”
Already these powerful voices have been heard and were instrumental in recent victories for health care and marriage equality.
We have much to celebrate on July 4, Stocks said, but “we do so with our eyes wide-open, for we know that all is not well in our country.”
Stocks saluted the Assembly for passing a new business item that addresses the issues of institutional racism. This measure calls for a coalition of partners to work together to eradicate policies that perpetuate institutional racism in education and expand educator-led professional development in areas of cultural competence, diversity, and social justice.
I am deeply proud of this Assembly… for recognizing that institutional racism lurks in the shadows and taking responsibility to bring it to the light,” Stocks said. “Your action yesterday is a courageous expression of this organization’s values and character and…its aspirations for our society…. particularly for our students.”
But every educator has a unique contribution to make to the new American Majority Movement, Stocks said.
The test, label, and punish regime of the so-called education “reform” movement is collapsing. But what will replace it? A different set of equally narrow and destructive policies or a vision of public education that is created and cultivated by educators?
It is a vision, Stocks said, rooted in serving the needs, wants and desires of the whole child, that models and fosters equity and justice, that cultivates life-long learning for college and career in a prosperous and fair economy.
“We want public education to foster collaboration…where parents, students, communities, and educators. We demand that all of our students have an opportunity to learn! We want all of our students, regardless of their zip code, to receive the support, tools and time necessary to learn!” Stocks told to cheers from the assembly.
The three million members of the NEA are pivotal to this effort, Stocks said. “Our union ought to be indispensable to our members’ success… in their practice…in their professional development….and in their careers.”
Educators know what must be done for every student to succeed and there is no one else more qualified to lead public education into the future and be an indispensable part of the new American Majority Movement.
“Not just any educator,” Stocks said in closing. “Educators who are trained as advocates, who are organized, who are empowered to take the lead and who belong to the N—E—A!”
Remarks of John Stocks, Executive Director for The NEA Representative Assembly, July 4, 2015, Orlando, Florida