The NEA Ask An Educator National Listening Tour launched last week with more than 50 participating local affiliates and more joining each day. The purpose of the tour is to bring educators’ voices into the debates that inform student success, including “time to teach” and student debt. This is the one of the most vigorous NEA membership engagement and recruitment initiatives in the winter months in memory.
NEA kicked off the national initiative in Louisiana on Thursday, January 15, 2015. The Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) took local leaders, staff and activist members to worksites throughout the Monroe, Louisiana school district to engage in one-on-one organizing conversations. LAE’s goal was to recruit new members, engage current members, and listen to educators and the challenges they see in the workplace, and challenges that prevent student success.
“We want to hear from educators about issues we know they are passionate about,” LAE President Debbie Meaux said. “It is our hope that we can be the facilitator in helping Louisiana’s hardworking educators build deeper relationships with the communities they work in and with the students they serve.”
Events kicked off in Monroe at J.S. Clark Magnet School, where LAE President Meaux, LAE Field Staff and NEA representatives met with several school employees, including Nancy Farley, an elementary science teacher.
“I enjoyed meeting with our elected leaders and sharing some of my concerns,” Farley said. “All educators want what’s best for their students. We are the ones who work with them every day to become better 21st-century learners. We know their needs, passions, and struggles. It’s important for us to share our observations with those who can help us to shine light on the areas that need improvement.”
One of Farley’s major concerns with Louisiana’s public school system is the amount of time her students spend on taking standardized tests, that prevents real one-on-one instructional time.
“We are focusing way too much with end-of-the-year, state-mandated standardized tests and not enough time on innovative classroom activities,” she said. “A good education inspires students’ natural curiosity, imagination, and desire to learn. It’s time we bring creativity and exploration back to Louisiana classrooms. I hope my conversation with President Meaux and the NEA representatives will spark a discussion at the local, state and national level on the need to provide our students more time to learn.”
LAE President Meaux said that is exactly their intent.
Over the next 90 days, NEA will be joined by affiliates nationwide for meetings with educators, parents and community members to discuss the issues affecting student success in their school districts. Leaders and members plan to use all the feedback from their meetings in order to guide our discussion and share their stories in our future public school advocacy efforts at the local, state and national level.
If your state and/or local affiliate is interested in joining the Ask an Educator National Listening Tour, please visit our website at www.nea.org\listeningtour.