NEA RA concludes in Boston; Hawaii’s delegation pushes successful NBIs

A total of 110 teacher delegates from across Hawaii participated in the NEA’s 155th Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly in Boston earlier this month, successfully convincing a majority of colleagues from around the country to back a proposal about the Hawaiian overthrow. The NEA RA is the largest democratic deliberative body in the world, with more than 7,500 delegates.

The proposal to have NEA publish an article documenting the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893 (NBI 37) was offered by Chris Santomauro, a Kaneohe Elementary teacher. Bolstered by an impassioned floor speech from Uluhani Waialeale, a teacher at Kualapuu PCS on Molokai, a majority of delegates approved the overthrow proposal, agreeing that “the overthrow and the events that followed must be shared widely to promote historical accuracy and justice.”

In an interesting bit of timing, the overthrow proposal was approved on July 4, the day the United States celebrates Independence from Britain. While many HSTA delegates wore red, white and blue as is customary on July 4, others wore black in honor of Hawaiians and other oppressed people around the world.

Lisa Morrison, a teacher at Maui Waena Intermediate, was the maker of NBI 98, which called on the NEA to advocate for the removal or revision of developmentally inappropriate standards from state standards, including Common Core State Standards. The proposal, which said “NEA must support teachers’ professional judgement to teach standards they know are developmentally appropriate and not to be forced to teach otherwise,” passed the NEA RA.

Another Hawaii delegate proposal that delegates approved was NBI 123, a climate change measure introduced by Nanna Lindberg of Maui High. It called on the NEA to create and distribute digitally an article “delineating climate change as an evidence-based scientifically proven occurrence that is detrimental to our planet.”

The NEA RA featured long days, with some Hawaii delegates beginning the review of new business items (NBIs) at 6 a.m. followed by the Hawaii Caucus meetings from 7 until 9 a.m. and then the RA at the Convention Center from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., with one night going until well past 7 p.m.

During this year’s NEA RA, HSTA delegates helped set policy and chart the direction of NEA business by participating in various committees, constituencies, caucuses and leadership groups. Hawaii’s delegates elected Ashley Olson, a teacher at Lahainaluna High, from the Maui Chapter, as Hawaii’s representative on NEA’s Resolutions Committee for next year’s NEA RA, which will be held in Minneapolis.

At the Boston Convention Center, HSTA delegates Mitzie Higa, Angie Miyashiro, Osa Tui, Jodi Kunimitsu and Christopher Ho were interviewed by NEA media staffers to talk about topics ranging from the importance of diverse literature to giving advice to new educators. Their remarks were used in web video stories and podcasts from NEA.

Hawaii’s delegates participated in pre-meetings as well as community outreach projects in Boston, home to the country’s first public school. The theme of this year’s meeting was Uniting Our Members and the Nation. With the city of Boston as the historic backdrop, delegates were reminded of the principles of democracy, equity and inclusiveness as they set education policy for the NEA.