OEA’S 2023 SPRING REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY
The 2023 Spring RA will be held on May 12 and 13, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Union Station Ballroom. The RA will begin at 9:00 a.m.
For questions before or on the day of the Representative Assembly, please contact William Baird, Elections & Conference Coordinator, at 614-227-3169 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delegates to 2022 OEA Spring Representative Assembly celebrate the work of educators and plan for the future of public education
Delegates to the 2022 OEA Spring Representative Assembly (RA) held May 7 focused on legislative and political issues with a direct effect on public education and students in Ohio. The 597 registered delegates participating in the assembly—337 in person and 260 online—acted on remote learning policies, discussed current legislative efforts and organizing and advocacy successes, and celebrated the work of members and locals to support students and schools throughout another challenging school year. Delegates also took time to acknowledge OEA members lost during 2022.
In his address, OEA President Scott DiMauro talked about the visits he and fellow OEA officers Vice President Jeff Wensing and Secretary-Treasurer Mark Hill have made to dozens of locals this spring as part of their listening tour. DiMauro told delegates about the tremendous work being done by OEA members in classrooms and schools throughout the state. He also spoke of the challenges and inequities many face, sharing stories of members who have hit a breaking point and are leaving the education profession.
“If we’re going to reverse the trend of fewer people choosing education as a career and more people choosing to leave the profession early, educators must be given the respect and support we need and deserve, and systemic inequities in our system must be acknowledged and ended,” President DiMauro said. “The future of our students is at stake. The future of Ohio is at stake. The future of our democracy is at stake.
“The only way we will shape a better future is by leading this fight. None of us can do it alone, but together we can. As Frederick Douglass famously said, power concedes nothing without a demand, and if we don’t demand better, no one else will. This is why we exist, and why, after 175 years, OEA must continue to lead the way as THE voice for educators, students, and public education in our state. We’ve led this fight before, and we must continue to lead this fight now.”
OEA Vice President Jeff Wensing kicked off the OEA Fund for Children and Public Education (OEA Fund) drive and presented the legislative update to the assembly.
In his update, Wensing spoke of the shared values that motivate OEA members to do their work.
“We share a desire that our public schools, regardless of their zip code, inspire imagination, cultivate critical thinking, and ensure our students can live fulfilling lives,” Wensing said. “To achieve this, we know our schools need adequate funding to ensure our students have access to engaging materials and up-to-date approaches to learning, emotional supports to set them up to be all that they dream, and access to classrooms where their teachers and support professionals know their names because their schools are adequately staffed.
However, these values have been in the crosshairs and under attack by those that want to scapegoat public educators and schools, simply to control the political narrative leading into the 2022 midterm election. Rather than help our schools and students, certain elected leaders in Columbus are actively driving a wedge between parents and educators to prevent us from coming together to demand that they do their job and tackle the real issues that face our schools.”
He detailed recent legislative efforts concerning public education and the OEA’s response to these proposed laws—HB 322/HB 327/HB 616 to prohibit teaching “divisive topics,” HB 529 to require web posting of classroom materials, HB 497to end student retention under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, HB 290—the “Backpack Bill” designed to offer universal vouchers, HB 99 to r reduce training for armed school employees, and HB 583 to extend temporary qualifications for substitutes.
Wensing told delegates that as the OEA continues the work of defending and advocating for the rights of educators and students across the state, members will be asked for input in the development of new legislation designed to provide additional state support for educators and students to support the professional rights of educators, support high-quality instruction and student learning in the classroom, and to support access to health and wellness services that prepare students for learning.
Presenting the Association’s 2022-2024 Proposed Strategic Budget, OEA Secretary-Treasurer Mark Hill said, “We were able to develop a balanced budget that maintains OEA’s commitment to supporting and protecting our members and we will do this while continuing to be mindful of the Association’s long-term obligations. This budget was formulated with a focus on achieving OEA’s strategic priorities based on member input. We believe it provides a solid framework for a continued strong financial condition of the Association and to successfully meet the challenges facing our members and public education.”
Hill noted that OEA has planned conservatively, projecting a 2% reduction in membership in the first budget year, a reduction that is maintained in the second budget year. He emphasized that the Association is not expecting this loss in membership but is being prudent for budgetary purposes as it remains wary of efforts by anti-union forces to sway members to drop membership and mindful of an uncertain economic climate that may affect school funding in the next state budget.
OEA has had a slight increase in professional educator membership this year that was offset by a 2.4% loss in ESP members due mostly to unfilled positions in local school districts. OEA’s relatively stable membership is due to the work of local leaders in demonstrating the value of union membership.
He stressed membership is most important for building power to make sure OEA members have a voice in their workplaces.
Hill explained that OEA’s revenue is tied to the average teacher salary reported by the Ohio Department of Education. As a result of a 2.6% increase in the Average Teacher Salary, OEA has budgeted dues to increase for fiscal year 2023. This results in an overall $14 dues increase for Fulltime Educators from the current annual amount of $548 to $562 and a $8 increase for Fulltime ESPs from $306 to $314. The budget for fiscal year 2024 includes an estimated 1% increase in the Average Teacher Salary.
In her address, OEA Executive Director Patricia Collins Murdock encouraged members to share their knowledge and expertise with policymakers as they develop and implement policies and laws that impact Ohio’s children and public education. She also stressed the importance of member engagement in political action to ensure that the Fair School Funding Plan remains in place and is fully implemented.
Collins Murdock discussed OEA’s efforts to explore new and innovative ways to connect with OEA members during the past year. These initiatives have included district round table discussions for members, departmental and regional discussions for staff, the OEA officers’ listening tour, the Join Now pilot program that allows new members to join the association online, two pilot mentoring programs—the Educators Leading the Profession pilot in Lima and OEA’s mentoring partnership with Central State University, and the Education Matters podcast.
President DiMauro introduced the 2022 OEA Awards and welcomed 2022 Ohio Teacher of the Year—and National Teacher of the Year—Kurt Russell (Oberlin) and 2022 Education Support Professional of the Year Debra Van Gorder (Ashtabula Association of Classified School Employees) who addressed delegates.
In his remarks, Russell said, “Like so many educators, I have invested time and energy into creating a conducive learning environment for students. I am that teacher who comes in early to prepare, attends sporting events for my students, and advises clubs and other activities,” he said.
“This is not done because someone asked me to do it or because I would like acknowledgment or recognition but because this is what I believe good teaching represents. It requires that teachers make sure students feel a sense of belonging, that they are invested in the school and learning, and that they are socially and emotionally well.
“As teachers, it is important that we have support and are protected. For over 175 years, OEA has been persistent in lobbying local, state, and federal governments to ensure better working conditions for educators and resources to enhance students’ needs. OEA has provided respectability through salary increases, continued learning opportunities and, more importantly, the ability to teach. With an increase of rhetoric dealing with CRT and banning books, OEA has fervently stood up against these attacks.
“I soar because of the confidence OEA assures me. OEA treats me like the professional I am and allows me to be the expert in the classroom.”
ESP of the Year Van Gorder shared stories from her career as a paraprofessional in Ashtabula.
“At the junior high I worked with a young man who had oppositional defiant disorder,” she said. “It was tough, but we stuck it out and found common ground. By the end of the third nine weeks, a child I had been told would never present in front of class was making speeches in front of his class. A child I had been told would never do group work was working in groups.
“We learned a way to get around what was bothering him, and the end of each day during our free period—enrichment period—I would take him to one of the empty classrooms that had a Keurig. We would sip hot chocolate and work on his schoolwork so he could stay caught up. He didn’t have the support at home he needed. That’s how we found each other—we connected over hot chocolate.
The adage, “kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is how I’ve lived my career, my life. I love my kids and my kids will attest to that. My kids are everything—my own kids and my kids at the school.”
DiMauro shared a video in which the following 2022 honorees spoke about their work and expressed gratitude to OEA for awards and scholarships that allow them to continue to grow personally and professionally: Blue Ribbon Association Award—Lorain Education Association; Charles A. Glatt/Human and Civil Rights Award—LaMar Sharpe of Canton, Ohio; OEA Friend of Education Award—Amanda Gorman and Loren Long; Education Support Professional Aspiring Teacher Scholarship—Michelle Whited (Westerville Education Support Staff Association); Jean Kershaw Scholarship—Tatum Tatman (OEA-AE Ohio University Chillicothe); John F. Kennedy Scholarship—Allison Palguta (Hilliard Education Association); and Marilyn Cross Scholarship—Angela Savinda (Southeast Local District Teachers Association).
The RA welcomed special guest Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley who spoke about her vision for the State of Ohio.
“You have all been on the front lines for years, but particularly these past few years, making sure our kids got what they needed, whether it was to get to school, to get fed, and to educate remotely and in person,” Whaley said. “Thank you. I appreciate what you did for our kids and for our communities.”
Whaley told delegates, “I am here today because of the strength of the American labor movement. It is why I was so proud to work with so many of you back in 2011 as deputy campaign manager on the We Are Ohio campaign…I’m sure many of you were there on when thousands of union members and allies marched through Columbus to deliver the million signatures on the repeal petition that brought that vote to a head in November. By overwhelmingly rejecting this awful law, we showed politicians the rights of working people are not up for debate. But let’s be clear, the anti worker extremists are still ready to attack the labor movement and that includes Mike DeWine. In his very first campaign ad he attacked teachers’ unions for standing up for schools and kids during the COVID 19 pandemic. It is unacceptable. We cannot back down from this fight, and I know none of you will.
We have to believe we can change Ohio—that the status quo is not good enough. I believe there’s a way forward where we make every community in Ohio thrive, every working family have opportunities, and we can throw away the status quo and have Ohio on the top of good lists and on the bottom of the bad ones, but we have to believe change is possible. Join me in this fight to show Ohio deserves better for our kids, for our families, for our grandkids, and for our communities.”
During the Spring RA, delegates elected the following statewide candidates:
- Scott DiMauro (Worthington EA)—President (with a term ending July 14, 2025)
- Jeff Wensing (Parma EA)—Vice President (with a term ending July 14, 2025)
- Angel Dyer-Sanchez (Columbus EA)—NEA Director #3 (with a term ending August 31, 2025)
- Carol Correthers (Lorain EA)—NEA Director #4 (with a term ending August 31, 2025)
- Deborah Jackson (Princeton ACE)—OEA Board of Directors At-Large (with a term ending July 14, 2025)
- Dee Meredith (Fairless EA)—OEA Board of Directors ESP At-Large (with a term ending July 14, 2025)
Delegates also approved the appointment of Pam Jones to the OEA Appeals Board for a seven-year term ending August 31, 2029.
At the assembly, delegates passed the following New Business Items:
- SP-2022-01—Annual and life dues for OEA-R for Education Support Professionals shall be 50% of the dues set by the OEA Board effective for the 2023-2024 membership year.
- SP-2022-02—The OEA Representative Assembly endorses the recommendations of the Professional Efficacy Committee on remote learning policies, specifically supporting the following positions:
- providing remote instruction ONLY when the following criteria are met:
- access for students and educators to all the technology necessary to engage in effective remote instruction. This includes reliable network access, functioning devices, appropriate online curriculum, and the ability to easily access technical support.
- training for students and educators on all remote platforms utilized in remote instruction as well as any devices necessary to provide remote instruction PRIOR to the start of the remote learning program.
- training and ongoing support for educators on the topic of student engagement during remote instruction.
- student attendance policies for remote instruction that clearly define what it means to be present versus absent and hold educators harmless for attendance reporting issues that are beyond their control.
- the incorporation of social and emotional learning components to remote instruction programs that ensure instruction addresses the whole child.
- continued access to wraparound services, including in-person services as needed, for students participating in a remote learning program.
- that every effort will be made to protect the contracted hours of all ESPs.
- negotiations between the employer and the local association, prior to the implementation of a remote learning program, on terms and conditions related to the establishment and ongoing operation of the program, including:
- process for assigning educators to remote learning programs
- class size restrictions, hours/days, and any other workload issues
- method of instruction (synchronous, asynchronous, etc.)
- schedule of training requirements
- stipends for any technology, curriculum, subscriptions, etc., that are required to conduct the remote learning program and not provided by the employer
- process for staff evaluation
- location of work (at home, on-site, etc.)
- rules for the recording and sharing of lessons
- online safety and privacy
- including the interests of all ESPs in remote learning.
- providing remote instruction ONLY when the following criteria are met:
- the “simultaneous synchronous” model of remote instruction and any other model of remote instruction that requires educators to split their attention between remote and in-person students.
- the use of remote instruction as a means for reducing staff, closing buildings, or otherwise cutting costs.
- mandatory, non-emergency assignment of students and/or educators to a remote learning program.
- student accountability policies that lower standards for students participating in remote learning programs.
The Representative Assembly further charged the Resolutions Committee and the Legislative Committee to review appropriate sections of OEA Resolutions and OEA Legislative Policies and recommend modifications to those respective documents to bring them into alignment with these positions.
In addition, delegates charged the OEA Executive Director and staff with developing strategies for legislative advocacy, collective bargaining, and other actions to advance these positions.
Spring RA delegates approved the proposed 2022-2024 two-year Strategic Budget and proposed 2022-2023 Resolutions Report as amended.
At the RA, delegates also approved the following Constitution and Bylaws Proposals:
- #1—To amend Section 2-4(e) of the OEA Bylaws to eliminate an old reference to a one-time $25.00 dues increase for the 2007-2008 membership year.
- #2—To modify the Constitution and Bylaws to ensure that the appropriate use of inclusive language is incorporated throughout the Constitution and Bylaws. It also includes an editorial change in Article II changing the phrase Classes of Membership to Classifications of membership and adds a reference to section 2-1a of the bylaws. Also changes Classes to Classifications in Bylaw Section 2-1.
- #3—To amend Section 5-2(a) of the OEA Bylaws to eliminate nomination of candidates from the floor of the OEA Representative Assembly, except when there are no declared candidates for office. (A motion to reconsider this proposal failed.)
The delegates contributed $24,941.00 to the OEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Winners of the Fund giveaway were $500—Joy Bock (Groveport-Madison EA), $300—Lillian Tolbert (East Cleveland EA), and $100—Chaleen Tidrick (Tuscarawas Valley EA).
The following Constitution article was read by title for amendment at the December 2022 RA: Article II—Membership; Article III—Governance Structure; Article IV—Representative Assembly; Article V—Board of Directors; Article IX—Affiliates; Article X—Amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws.