Unconventional

Last week I reported on changes to be made to the National Education Association Representative Assembly. I’ve got some more details so, delegates, take note.

The NEA Executive Committee came up with a series of recommendations that include a different theme for each of the four days of the convention, an inspirational moment at the end of each day, and placing the Teacher of the Year and Education Support Professional of the Year speeches on the same day.

But the substantive changes are all designed to trim the fat and streamline the debate process.

Guest speakers will either be eliminated or face strict time limits. The thank-you speeches of election winners – the sheer number of which extend the RA by almost an hour – will be eliminated.

A bone of contention last year was the practice by some delegates of “bundling” several similar new business itemsĀ a referring them to committee as a group. Now there will be a formal process by which separate new business items can be consolidated before being brought to the floor for debate and vote. No information was available as to how that will work.

Delegates will also have a way to ask questions about individual business items without using up valuable floor time. This may take the form of an information desk or some electronic means.

And, as I reported previously, the convention will end at or before a firm designated time on the last day, which will eliminate a host of problems, not the least of which was willfully ignoring the lack of a quorum as delegates left to catch flights or get some sleep.

It may, however, lead to other problems, such as, what happens to unfinished business?

The Executive Committee addressed one of those problems by submitting a change to the standing rules that would allow the union’s budget to be voted upon earlier in the day. The rules currently require that vote to take place only after all new business is completed.

That is the only change that requires approval by the RA delegates. All of the other recommendations, including the ending time of the convention, evidently fall under the jurisdiction of the NEA president.

The delegates will have to adjust quickly, but my best suggestion would be: If you want your new business item debated and voted on by the delegates on the floor, better submit it early.

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