Happy summer!

For those of you on summer break, I hope you have had the chance to unwind and enjoy the first few weeks of our Maine summer.

For those of you who are working either in a school or other setting, I hope the change at least provides a refreshing break from the academic year.

In either case, despite the change in seasons, even with the legislative session over, there is still a lot going on at MEA!  There are many meetings, trainings, and professional development opportunities this summer, and work is already underway for many activities coming this fall!

The month of June meant a PRIDE parade every Saturday—in Belfast, Portland, Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn!  Thank you to all who joined in and showed support for our students and communities!  If you weren’t able to this year, be sure at least one of the parades is in your calendar for next year—the applause and cheers from the spectators—including many of our students and colleagues–is energizing and rewarding.

Big Changes to Read Across America
Changes to the Read Across America program for 2020:  It is important to know that NEA will be ending the licensing agreement with Dr. Seuss Enterprises as of August 31, 2019. This means that we must no longer use the old RAA logo with the Cat in the Hat image or you will be subject to a significant cost and possible legal action by Dr. Seuss Enterprises for using it!  NEA has created a new logo which should be used. The focus of the new program is on diverse books and diverse readers.  For more information and the Read Across America calendar of activities, go to:  www.readacrossamerica.org

Training Opportunities
Leaders for Just Schools:  If you are interested in learning about how you can work for equal and just schools in your district, there are now three MEA members who have been trained to work with you—and a fourth member is going to training this summer!  To be connected with these facilitators, contact Grace at gleavitt@maineea.org

Interested in learning more about labor history and movement building?  Consider attending the AFL-CIO Summer Institute.  The Institute is August 6th and 7th in Orono.  For information on fees and registration, go to:  www.maineaflcio.org/summerinstitute

Trauma In Schools Report-Resources Available
“Addressing the Epidemic of Trauma in Schools” is a report just now published by the National Council of State Education Associations. This report is the result of the work done at the convening co-sponsored by NCSEA and NEA in May which I attended with two other MEA members. The report contains information about trauma as well as recommendations to make progress in this vital area and resources to help us all in dealing with the issue.  The report is not yet available online but as soon as it is, we will make that available.  Meanwhile, Vermont-NEA held a convening on this topic and there is a compilation of resources on their website.

Holocaust and Human Rights Seminars
Summer seminars at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine—for information, visit the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine website.

Treasurer Training
Be sure you have signed up for the local Treasurers’ trainings and local Presidents’ meetings. 

MEA is offering Treasurer Trainings for Treasurers and Presidents, as well as Presidents’ Meetings this summer in five locations around the state. If you have not already registered, contact Grace asap at gleavitt@maineea.org

Meeting Locations and Dates:

  • Portland – Monday, July 15th – USM Abromson Center, Room 214-215, 88 Bedford Street
  • Auburn – Tuesday, July 16th – Central Maine Community College, The Tower Rm #405, 1250 Turner Street
  • Augusta – Thursday, July 18th – Bangor Savings Bank, 5 Senator Way
  • Bangor – Monday, August 5th – Dysart’s Restaurant, 1110 Broadway
  • Presque Isle – Tuesday, August 6th – University of Maine Presque Isle *Please note, registration information for this meeting will be coming from Lou Willey, UniServ Director District 15.

Treasurer Training agenda items will include, but are not limited to:

  • Fiduciary duties of all Officers & important calendar dates and reminders
  • Changes to the MEA Constitution & Bylaws – addition of quarter time dues category
  • When the MEA gives you money and what is a “War Chest” – MEA 1.3 Financial Assistance
  • eBilling Invoice Portal – What is it, how does it work & how to understand what you are being invoiced for
  • The importance of membership accuracy and the verification process
  • IRS rules and regulations – 990N ePostcard Filing and 1099/1096 Form
  • Presidents’ Meeting – a chance to check-in with area local presidents and to share ideas and best practices for an effective local association!

Membership Meetings
Also, be sure to have your local association represented at the August membership meeting in your area. Invitations for these meetings come from your UniServ Director. The meetings are held on various days in August throughout the state.  Be sure to attend to talk about and work on your local association’s back-to-school membership drives!  Don’t know who your UniServ Director is? Look it up here: https://maineea.org/staff/

Pre-Retirement Seminars
If you are planning to retire in the next year or two, take advantage of the MEA Pre-Retirement seminars sponsored by MEA and MEA Retired to be sure you make the best plans. These fill up quickly, so be sure to register soon. Visit maineea.org.

MEA Full Calendar of Events
Don’t forget—you can check out all sorts of events on the MEA Events Calendar! For information on a variety of trainings and professional development, visit maineea.org.

Exclusive Discounts and Savings
Don’t forget to check out all that is available to you as a member—be sure to check out MEA and NEA Member Benefits (and tell any colleagues who are not yet members what they are missing, too!) Go to: maineea.org/benefits

NEA Representative Assembly
Our Maine delegation is just back from the National Education Association Representative Assembly. Nearly 7,000 delegates from the 52 state affiliates of the NEA met in Houston for four busy days electing members to the NEA Executive Committee and at-large Board of Directors, debating and voting on proposed changes to the NEA Constitution and Bylaws, the resolutions (belief statements), the legislative agenda, the strategic budget, and the many new business items (action items) that the NEA will work on during the coming year.

You can see the highlights of what took place at https://ra.nea.org/, including videos of inspiring speeches by the NEA Teacher of the Year, the NEA ESP of the Year, the NEA Higher Ed member of the Year, and NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.  You will also find the list of the New Business Items that were adopted and the other actions that were passed.  There were many items dealing with racial and social justice, the supports our students need to learn, and the conditions our colleagues need to do their best work.  The last issue of the “RA Today” shows the final update of all of the adopted New Business Items and amendments.
A special highlight of this year’s RA was the presidential forum. Ten candidates accepted the invitation to participate.  Each had ten minutes to speak—one minute to address the delegates, followed by three questions that members had submitted for which they had three minutes per question to respond. 

Although it was only ten minutes per candidate, their responses revealed many of their views on various issues that are important to educators and to our students.  Be sure to check out the website that NEA has created where you can see candidates’ views on a variety of educational issues and can compare their views:  https://educationvotes.nea.org/presidential-2020/. The website will be updated periodically over the coming months.  2020 is around the corner!

Fund for Children and Education
Our Maine delegates were again extremely generous and exceeded MEA’s fundraising goal for The NEA Fund for Children and Education. This fund is used to help candidates whom the NEA has endorsed; no dues dollars are used to support candidates! The fund is made up of only voluntary contributions. Maine’s delegation was fourth in the amount of per delegate contributions raised during the NEA Representative Assembly!  You can help support endorsed candidates, too, by making a contribution to the NEA FCPE and to the MEA Fund for Public Education.

Board of Directors Meeting/Changes
The MEA Board of Directors will be meeting later this month.  Be sure to let your Director know if there is something you want them to discuss at the meeting, and when they reach out to you, please respond.  Don’t know who your director is?  To see a list, go to:  https://maineea.org/board/

Joining the Board of Directors are Nancy Mitchell (District G), Dennis Boyd (District H), and Amy O’Brien Brown (District J).  Many thanks to outgoing Directors Maryann White, Jim Thornton, and Terry Martin for their years of service!

Voter Registration When We All Vote is a non-partisan organization, begun by Michelle Obama, to encourage voter registration—let’s encourage our high school students, friends, family, and our colleagues to be sure they are registered to vote in the next election check it out at:  https://www.whenweallvote.org/

Finally, each time we are at the NEA RA, we are reminded of all the resources available to members—toolkits, lesson plans—lots of materials you might find useful!  Be sure to spend some time this summer exploring the website:  www.nea.org

I hope to see many of you at the upcoming local Treasurers’ trainings, the local Presidents’ meetings, and/or the August membership meetings around the state.  If I don’t get to see you at one of these meetings this summer, please let me know when I can meet with your local leaders in the fall—my goal in the coming months is to talk with members in each and every local!

In Unity,

Grace Leavitt, President
Maine Education Association