Angie Miyashiro’s NBI adopted at NEA RA in Chicago

A Hawaiʻi Island teacher’s proposal to help end student vaping won approval Monday from nearly 6,000 teachers at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly (NEA RA) in Chicago.

Dr. Angie Miyashiro, a health and physical education teacher at Kaʻu High and Pahala Elementary, sponsored New Business Item (NBI) 14 which strongly urges the U.S. Department of Education to be proactive and provide better resources, support, and interventions for vaping on campus to create a more healthy and positive learning environment for students.

“Health-wise, this is scary,” Miyashiro said. “It’s (vaping) more addictive than cigarettes. They offer nicotine and flavors to attract kids. A lot of them are vaping, and it’s out of control. If we’re really interested in health, we need to do this,” Miyashiro said, referring to putting an end to student vaping.

“Middle school kids run off after PE (physical education) and go off to vape and nobody does anything.” she continued.

Eventually, she asked herself if there was something she could do. She spoke to her administration and even emailed her superintendent. After feeling a general lack of action about the problem, she turned to the union for a solution.

Miyashiro sponsored NBI 14 at this year’s NEA RA, and spoke in favor of her proposal in front of her colleagues across the country. Miyashiro, a virtual delegate this year, spoke about her item via video call, which was broadcast on the assembly floor in Chicago.

“Teachers like the ones on my campus are frustrated because they have no control over vaping,” Miyashiro said. “Administration may take away the device if they find it, but not much else is happening.”

Intervention is more beneficial to the students’ long-term health than any punishment, she said.

“Schools that use intervention instead of punishment believe in helping these students fight their addictions, rather than treating them as delinquents. NEA needs to help schools take a stronger stance, and the power to be proactive in using interventions that help rather than punish, as it is critical to a positive school environment,” Miyashiro said.

Ashley Henion, a fifth-grade teacher at Kainalu Elementary School in Kailua, Oahu, spoke in support of the measure at the Hawaii Caucus meeting prior to the vote at the RA.

“Companies use tactics like flavors to get kids addicted, but these are just kids who might not understand the long-term effects of vaping,” Henion said. “Kids are influenced by peer pressure and society to fit in.”

The proposal won unanimous support from the Hawaii Caucus ahead of the national vote.

Of her experience, Miyashiro, who is also a National Board Certified Teacher, said she was nervous to speak in front of her colleagues from around the country, but “to actually do something and make a change? It was worth all the nervousness.”

About NEA RA

Every summer, thousands of educators from around the country meet at the Representative Assembly to debate and vote on vital issues that impact American public education and set National Education Association policy and activities for the year ahead.

This year, NEA RA was held in Chicago with approximately 6,000 educators from every state (both in-person and virtually) in attendance. Click here for the latest updates for this year’s RA.

The NEA is the largest union in the country, and the RA is the world’s largest democratic deliberative assembly.