Gina HarKirat Harris, newly elected member of the NEA board of directors from Illinois.
The restructuring plan that would reduce the numbers of members of the IEA board of directors was shot down at this weekend’s Representative Assembly.
The restructuring plan was two years in the making, I was told.
Gina Harris, newly elected member of the NEA board of directors, said to me that she did not believe this was the best use of IEA time and organization.
And she expressed serious concerns about the inclusion of IEA members of color in the development of the proposal and the impact on members of color if the proposal had passed. Would the reduction of the size of the Illinois state board of directors reduce the number of directors of color?
“I went back and forth on this whole restructuring thing in my own mind.”
What Gina does not go back and forth about is getting experienced IEA members of color better represented on committees and in shifting the focus from time spent on restructuring proposals to time spent on organizing proposals.
Nearly a year after the NEA RA decision to make institutional racism a focus of the entire union, Illinois leadership had yet to take any action until the Human and Civil Rights Committee introduced a New Business Item at this RA – nine months later.
The IEA HCRC, of which Gina is a member, brought up the issue of institutional racism and offered an NBI that passed. It directs the IEA’s training center to incorporate the issue of institutional racism in all membership training.
“I’m concerned about organizing and I’m concerned about relationships,” Gina told me.
Ironically, the HCRC’s New Business Item was followed by the rejection by delegates of an NBI calling for nothing more than a campaign of awareness about the use of racial stereotypes in school mascots, offered by delegate Louise Stompor. It was voted down with virtually no debate.
Only 13% of the RA delegates were members of color.
Today, Eric Brown, a member of the NEA Executive Committee sent me a copy of a model school board resolution on removing the Confederate flag from school buildings.
This has been the single thing that the NEA has done, to my knowledge, in response to my New Business Item 11 on the Confederate flag that was passed following the longest debate in the history of the NEA RA.
“We have work to do,” Gina Harris told me.