by Félix Pérez
Whether it’s at the Democratic National Convention kicking off today in Charlotte, N.C., or the Labor Day rally yesterday in Toledo, Ohio, America’s teachers, education support professionals and higher ed staff are receiving lots of high-level attention.
Yesterday, Arizona high school math teacher and National Education President Dennis Van Roekel was one of only three leaders from the organized labor movement who met with President Barack Obama and U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis over lunch after President Obama delivered his Labor Day remarks.
“The president was relaxed and conversational,” said Van Roekel of luncheon meeting. “I told the story of the NEA/NAACP training [on civic engagement] for young activists. I talked about how folks see, in these tough times, that education is more important for their kids than ever before.”
Beginning today, more than 200 educators — NEA members — are serving as delegates to the Democratic convention and are carrying the message that educators and their unions are one and the same. The educator delegates are reminding other delegates, guests and reporters that teacher unions are made up of bus drivers, school custodians, nurses, school crossing guards, librarians, cafeteria workers, teachers, higher ed faculty and staff — people who are upstanding members of their communities who dedicate their lives to educating the next generation of Americans.
Also today, Van Roekel:
- Will be a guest tonight in Vice President Joe Biden’s convention skybox during a tribute to former U.S. Senator and civil rights icon Ted Kennedy. Joining them will be Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and middle school social studies teacher and Massachusetts Education Association President Paul Toner.
- Participated on a panel sponsored by the Democratic Governors Association on growing the economy, expanding business, and creating jobs. The panel included governors Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, Mark Dayton, Minnesota, Dan Malloy, Connecticut, and Jack Markell, Delaware.
- Spoke at the Democratic State Legislative Campaign Committee’s luncheon.
- Participated in a Democrats for Education Reform panel.