The Maine Education Association has what’s called an NEA Director. The NEA Director is the liaison to the National Education Association. This elected position is currently filled by Gorham teacher, Amanda Cooper. Amanda and MEA President Grace Leavitt head to Washington, D.C., three times a year. What happens there?
Along with the NEA Board meetings to conduct the business of the NEA, there are various meetings and trainings and both MEA’s elected leaders spend a day on Capitol Hill to lobby our Congressional delegation on important issues affecting our members and our students. Last month, MEA Vice President Jesse Hargrove and MEA Treasurer Beth French also attended trainings with their fellow officers from the other states, and all were honored to accompany our Excellence in Teaching Award winner, Dan Ryder, and his wife at the NEA Foundation Gala where Dan was one of the five Horace Mann Award finalists!
On the Hill, Amanda and Grace met with Senator King and his staff, Congresswoman Pingree and her staff, and staff from the offices of Senator Collins and Congressman Golden (he had planned to meet with us, too, but unfortunately was ill). MEA’s elected leaders spoke to them all about
1) the National ESP Award—H.R. 276/S. 323 (H.R. 276 has now passed!)
2) keeping the government open and “no more shutdowns”
3) background checks (we will be scheduling a ‘back home’ meeting with Congressman Golden; as you may know, he did not support this bill recently)
4) the Rebuild America’s Schools Act and School Modernization (H.R. 865/S. 266).
As always, MEA’s leaders also spoke with our Congressional Delegation about the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO/WEP) and while all support fixing these federal laws, so far there has been no movement on this. Senator King did say he would be in communication with Senator Collins about this, and Congresswoman Pingree was going to look into getting a work group going on this topic.
The NEA PAC Council also met (this is comprised of all the state presidents) and work is already underway for the 2020 elections! The council worked on the questionnaire for presidential candidates which is being finalized.
FYI—Amanda also participates in a virtual NEA Board meeting in December and attends the July NEA Board meeting just before the NEA Representative Assembly. Thank you, Amanda, for representing MEA members!