As the National Education Association's 88th annual Representative Assembly drew to a close in San Diego, retiring NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin cited the historic legacy of Al Shanker in an eloquent valedictory speech that earned Chanin repeated standing ovations for his own historic contributions to the labor movement and public education.
In a moving address that recognized the contributions of Shanker and the United Federation of Teachers, Chanin spoke of his own 41 years at NEA, which he has described as "the closest you can get to having a well-paying job doing pro bono work." Chanin briefed and argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court -winning four - and filed amicus curiae briefs in another 25.
NYSUT officers and delegates were front and center at the NEA convention, which was presided over by Dennis Van Roekel in his first RA as NEA president. He called on members to embrace the challenges facing schools today and to lead the nation in transforming public education for the 21st century. Nearly 10,000 delegates responded by voting for action on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), working closely with the Obama administration to turn around the nation's high-poverty schools, and reforming health care.