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Washington Education Association: Strengthening Washington's Public Schools

Out and about
After nearly three months on the job as WEA president, it has been a whirlwind of experiences and learning for both Vice President Janie White and me. We would be exhausted if we weren't so energized by all we are experiencing. You'll be hearing from Janie, from me or from both of us in this monthly report about our efforts, activities and reflections as we work on behalf of all of you.

Election connection
Janie and I are inspired by how many WEA members, past and present, are running for office this fall. Giving time to run for school board and, eventually (we hope) serve takes energy, dedication and motivation. We encourage everyone to vote and we hope for positive results for WEA members who are running in southwestern Washington, the Olympic Peninsula, in the Tri-Cities and, indeed, all over our state. We appreciate the work you are doing on behalf of our students and our union colleagues.

Don't wait
As most of you know, one way to shape WEA policy is to write New Business Items (NBIs) and bring them before our Representative Assembly (RA) delegates for debate at the spring annual meeting. Janie and I hear that some of you believe this is the only way to create the positive changes you wish to see. Not every idea must work its way to WEA through an NBI. If you share what you're thinking and what is driving you to ask, we can address concerns and try to create change without having to wait until the following spring. We have an open-door policy and are excited to hear your ideas. Please feel free to send us an email to begin a discussion. Or, work with your WEA Board Directors to bring a motion before the WEA Board at one of their regularly scheduled meetings. We'd love to hear from you.

Racial justice
We are taking several steps forward in our collective goal to create a more racially and socially just educational system for our students, and a more racially and socially just union for our members and staff. We’ve identified five areas where we will focus our work: recruiting and retaining educators of color; supporting students of color; developing community partnership; defining legislative and political actions; and reviewing WEA structure. While the work isn't easy, I am excited, anxious and motivated by the emotion and energy I experienced when a group of WEA elected leaders, staff and managers met in early October to plan the next steps in this journey. We will keep you updated as plans continue to take shape. Janie and I both had the opportunity to attend Educators of Color conferences -- one in Edmonds and one in Richland. We were moved by your stories and experiences. Here's a link to Lily Eskelsen García's keynote speech in Richland.

WEA Board minutes
In between our travels, we presided over the September WEA Board of Directors meeting. Here are the highlights from the September meeting and the most recent board minutes

Last words
One of the unexpected benefits that come with our new roles is that we are meeting and talking with a host of people whom we admire. For example, I was invited to attend one of the recent presidential debates in Michigan. Your NEA Board Directors and I were honored to meet civil rights legend Georgia Rep. John Lewis in Washington DC this month. As we thanked him for all his work for so many decades, he simply replied, "I'm just doing what I can." That inspiring lesson is what I took home from him -- we are all just doing what we can to continue supporting our students, our professions, and our communities.

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