Representing 300,000 members nationwide, delegates to the 2016 NEA-Retired Annual Meeting gathered Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to kick off two days of conversations and decision-making, which will steer the organization into the coming year.
The gathering was gavelled to order by NEA-Retired President Tom Curran who urged delegates to “lead education to new heights.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García helped to open the first of four sessions, and took to the podium with a call to action. She reminded attendees of the importance of the upcoming presidential election, and urged NEA-Retired members to take an active role in the process and understand why their vote is important to public education and the nation.
Next week, delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly are expected to recommend Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for president, and Eskelsen García used her time with the retirees to remind them of Clinton’s past support of public school educators and students.
“She has been with us on our key issues since she could take a breath. I believe in her, because she believed in us and the causes we fight for,” Eskelsen García said.
Clinton is expected to address delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly next week.
Much at Stake
Eskelsen García reminded delegates of the damage that could come from a Donald Trump presidency, saying, “If you’re not sure for some reason about Hillary, you had better be sure why Donald Trump should not be our president.”
Calling the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting and next week’s Representative Assembly a “starting place” for defining this year’s election, Eskelsen García said, “You are a retired educator. You have a circle of influence. You walk on water for people. They trust you and they believe in you,” she said. “Be direct and impolite. Tell them the truth. We have too much at stake. I’m not talking about public schools or our pensions. I’m talking about our country.”
NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss also addressed the group and described NEA’s commitment to support new educators. She encouraged retired educators to take the lead in NEA’s newest initiative.
“The bottom line is we need you,” Moss told attendees. “I see this campaign as an opportunity to embrace our vision of unite, inspire, lead.” The three words are the theme to the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting, and they are also the theme of the 2016 Representative Assembly.