In 2019, the NEA created the Educator Voice Academies (EVAs) to help build an understanding of opportunities within ESSA and the power of lifting and amplifying educator voices for state and local affiliate members. This effort was led by NEA Education Policy and Practice in partnership with NEA’s Center for Organizing, Center for Social Justice, Center for Advocacy, Center for Great Public Schools, and Center for Governance. The first cycle featured in-person learning opportunities that brought state and local teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and create plans of action to help continue this work in their school communities. Ohio’s 2019 team chose to organize around improving our state’s school accountability system, and that work helped lead to the successful passage of HB 82, which eliminated the A-F school report card and instituted an OEA-sponsored “student opportunity profile” which will be implemented after the 2022-23 school year.
After the success of the initial Educator Voice Academies, the NEA collectively and collaboratively sought to continue moving this work forward to leverage the voices of our members as partners in delivering equitable opportunities for all students across race, ZIP code, background, and ability. These efforts moved us into the next phase of our work: highlighting educator-created plans to improve public education focused on specific priority issues.
In 2022, OEA formed state Educator Voice Academy teams to address issues related to Teacher Recruitment & Retention and Social & Emotional Learning. From that process, OEA has laid out a comprehensive set of recommendations for addressing the growing educator shortage crisis. (Click here for details.) One of the signature recommendations of the team working on the teacher shortage was establishing a new team to focus specifically on the need to recruit and retain education support professionals (ESPs) in Ohio’s public schools. Acute shortages of bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, school secretaries, and other essential workers have significantly disrupted student learning, strained school working conditions, and highlighted the need to invest in our ESPs. The OEA Educator Voice Academy cadre for Education Support Professionals will develop advocacy and organizing strategies to ensure every student in Ohio is served by caring, qualified support professionals who are respected, given the resources they need to be successful, and reflect the diversity of our population.
OEA is currently building a team of ESP members from a diverse mix of races, genders, job classifications, experience levels, and education settings from across Ohio. Applications may be submitted using the form linked on this page. This Educator Voice Academy team will be facilitated by an OEA officer with support OEA staff and will draw on resources from NEA. The schedule and format of meetings will be determined by the team, but it will involve a combination of virtual and in-person meetings held between January and the summer of 2023. Members will not be required to meet during normal working hours.