May 22nd, 2019

National Education Association

Hey, everyone, this is Amber. I am here to tell you about how awesome our meeting was with Christine DonFrancesco and Elic Senter. Christine DonFrancesco is the Senior Policy Analyst of the National Education Association’s Center for Education Policy and Practice. Elic Senter is the Manager of Education Policy and Practice at the National Education Association (NEA).

To be a part of NEA you must be a public school employee. As education is seen in many different realms, it is great for a diverse population of members. There are members who are principals, vice principals, school counselors, teachers, assistants and many more. All of the members are making a difference by being a part of the NEA. The NEA has many different departments which they refer to as “Center for..”; these Centers are made up of a variety of team members all working to inform the members about different resources and subjects related to their Center.

We had the honor of speaking with Elic Senter and Christine DonFrancesco. These two individuals were very informative not only on NEA information but also with helping us prepare for our meeting with Ted Budd. (Ted Budd is the congressman representing North Carolina’s 13th District in the United States House of Representatives.) In my personal opinion, meeting with the two of them has been the most enriching experience of our entire trip thus far. Elic Senter is a charismatic individual who is passionate about what he does. He also is a North  Carolina native.

The Center for Education Policy and Practice is focused mostly on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Elic Senter said, “We bought you the car and now we need you to drive it”. He explained to us that teachers fought for ESSA and then received it and have no idea what to do next. This is especially true for teachers who have been teaching for a while (10 years or more)- prior to ESSA, their classroom was not entirely in their control. Now with ESSA, the teachers have regained some control. Referring back to the car analogy, “we bought you the car, now you need to use it and here is how you can do that”. The job of the individuals in the Center for Education Policy and Practice is to essentially lift and move people along in ESSA.

Next, they explained what that looked like for us as new teachers entering the field of education. How can we make a difference? Christine explained it to us saying that elected officials are just people, but they are people who need to be informed about what we (teachers) see in the classroom. Basically, if you do not say anything, how will they know what is actually going on in our classroom. Another piece of advice she gave us is to be an active presence in our local chapter of NEA (NCAE for us in NC) and our schools. This can be participating in clubs and organizations that you may have never agreed to be a part of. Get your name and face out there, meet new people and share your experiences with them.

Our Professor, Dr. Blosser, is a great of an individual who is advocating for teachers and students and parents. She has also been working to create clubs and organizations on campus to prepare college students entering the education field for the matters surrounding education and how they can help. She is a connection that I am excited to have in the future when I am trying to voice a particular opinion and may not know how. Which is what Elic and Christine explained to us in the meeting. Find connections, meet new people, and build relationships because you never know when that connection will come in handy.

Another connection to resources provided by our two gracious speakers is https://myschoolmyvoice.nea.org/

Go to the “fill out your school checklist.” After completing the checklist and submitting the checklist, NEA will send resources directly to you. The resources provided are based on the Great Public School Indicators Research. The checklist shows where you stand in the implementation of ESSA. The resources are sent based on where improvement is needed. After analyzing the data, you are able to look at the Federal Funding Guide for grants that may be available to aid the improvements needed.  What an incredible way to support schools and educators!