WEA Meets Editorial Board of the Casper Star Tribune – The intent of the meeting was to educate them about the WEA as well as the WEA-Political Action Committee for Education.
2012 Delegate Assembly
The 80th Delegate Assembly will convene in Laramie April 12-14. As many as 175 delegates representing WEA’s 6,000 members will discuss issues affecting Wyoming education and propose policy to deal with these issues. A full agenda fills the three-day event beginning Thursday, April 12th, with several meetings and an Organizing Summit to highlight WEA’s ongoing work with organizing throughout the state.
Highlighting the assembly this year will be keynote speeches by NEA Executive Committee members Dr. Earl Wiman and Joyce Powell.
With 2012 being a major election year for WEA, delegates will also hear candidate speeches for open positions of the WEA Executive Committee, including WEA President, WEA Vice President, and NEA Director.
Friday night will feature an awards and recognition banquet. This year’s honorees include Gold Key awardee, Jean Hayek; Friend of Education awardee, Janine Bay Teske; ESP of the Year awardee, Donna Goetz; Green Apple awardee, Hazel Scharosch; Harriet “Liz” Byrd awardee, Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center; and the NFIE awardee, Lisa Esquibel.
Political action fundraising events will occur throughout the three days. Following the awards banquet, delegates will be invited to “walk the red carpet” and dance the night away at the PACE (Political Action Committee for Education) fundraiser. This year’s theme is WEA Oscars – Academy Awards Night. Delegates are invited to dress in their most Oscar-worthy attire, enjoy a karaoke contest, and more.
Delegates will also be given time throughout Delegate Assembly to browse the many products that will be spotlighted in the vendor area.
Even if you are not a delegate, a member of the Board of Directors, or a member of either a committee or commission, all WEA members have the right and opportunity to provide input regarding association work and the direction of the association. WEA is a body of members governed by the democratic process. Contact anyone in your local or region who will serve as a delegate and let your voice be heard so that they can bring your concerns to the floor at DA.
All WEA members are invited to observe their Association’s biggest event of the year. For more information, contact Julie Schwindt, Executive Administrative Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (800) 442-2395, ext. 103.
‘It takes teamwork’
by Ron Sniffin, WEA Executive Director
There are few places that better illustrate the effectiveness of teamwork than the Wyoming legislature. I’m not referring to the work of the legislators, but the work by those of us who try to influence their decisions. Some of this work is very public, and much of it is behind the scenes.
Many of you received the WEA Legislative Updates, an e-mail sent nightly reporting on the day’s events during the Legislature. While Acting Communications Director Erin Cochran had the arduous task of compiling the information, President Kathryn Valido and Government Relations Director Ken Decaria provided the background information and the framework for the update. Professional Issues Director Kathy Scheurman provided the bill updates by monitoring amendments and describing their impact on the bills we monitored. It was a real team effort!
Teamwork was a key factor in our efforts around the legislation impacting the Wyoming Retirement System. A coalition including WEA, the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, the Wyoming Public Employees Association, the Wyoming Retired Education Personnel, AARP Wyoming, and the Federated Firefighters of Wyoming were active partners in the fight against harmful changes to the Wyoming Retirement System. This coalition worked for a year to help enact the best legislation possible this session. But the work is not over. Led by the staff of the Equality State Policy Center, we will continue. Together, we are coordinating a series of town hall meetings and creating print and online documents to inform members about the Wyoming Retirement System and to organize our efforts to create legislation that will benefit all members of the Wyoming Retirement System.
The Education Accountability Bill was a primary focus for the Wyoming Education Coalition. We will continue to work closely with the Wyoming Association of School Administrators and the Wyoming School Boards Association to monitor and scrutinize this significant legislation as it progresses to the next phase.
Wyoming’s Community Colleges were also the beneficiaries of teamwork during the session. WEA higher education members joined the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees (WACCT), college presidents and others to aggressively lobby for an increase in funding for the community colleges. The resulting $7.5 million increase is to be used to hire additional faculty and staff to accommodate the significant increase in student enrollment.
For the first time, WEA was a sponsor for the WACCT Awards and Recognition Banquet. This extraordinary event recognized faculty, staff, trustees and others for their commitment to the colleges. Many of the recipients were WEA members.
While we can make a significant impact as individuals, it’s when we work as a team that we make momentous change!
‘Don’t be afraid of organizing’
by Debbie Bovee, WEA Vice President
For many people, the word “organizing” invokes negative ideas and feelings. Phrases such as bare-knuckle approach, waging war on the company, sweatshop conditions, marches, protests, and even organized crime come to mind. Relax and clear your mind. WEA is not proposing anything diabolical.
Our organizing efforts require person-to-person contacts made inside and outside of the workplace. One of the purposes is to build commitment. We are asking our members to remember why they value being members and to take steps necessary to strengthen their local as well as the state and national levels of the association. These steps could be as big as committing to running for an office or serving on a committee. However, just as important is a commitment from our members to understand why WEA exists and to be able to explain the value of our association to people who are not members, including people in the community. Organizing helps us focus on issues that resonate with our members and our community.
At their fall retreat in Saratoga, Southwest Region staff and leaders trained the participants in conducting “essential conversations.” These conversations are meant to bring out the values and issues that the organization and the persons involved in the conversation share. Southeast Region has also worked to train some of its members in the process.
In addition, Cody Education Association (CEA) has had several members trained to conduct essential conversations and use them in their organizing efforts. It has two purposes for its efforts: to make their local a stronger organization, and to build relationships with their legislators so that they can have open communications. Natrona County members have also started organizing efforts for reasons very similar to CEA.
Organizing is exciting work and I believe it can be very rewarding. Our UniServ staff is prepared to work with any local interested in being a part of this work – just contact them!