PSEA members attend NEA Republican Leaders Conference
Anne Loeffler, Southern Region PACE Chairperson and member of the Lincoln IU#12 EA, was one of three PSEA members to attend this year's NEA Republican Leaders Conference in Washington, DC. Loeffler, along with Nadia Prisuta, member of Sharpsville EA and John Odell, member of Phoenixville EA joined more than 100 members of the National Education Association to take part in three days of skills training and networking.
Loeffler reported that the Republican conferences occur because the annual NEA Representative Assembly voted to fund this effort in an attempt to reach out and give a voice to our Republican members. “So often, we hear that NEA and PSEA only support Democratic Party candidates. These efforts demonstrate that our union believes in supporting candidates who work to improve our public schools and the lives of the children we educate regardless of party affiliation.”
As part of the week of training, conferees visited Republican and Democratic members of Congress in the hopes of beginning a dialogue and identifying areas of mutual interest for possible future collaboration.
Prisuta said that she was grateful for the opportunity to build relationships with candidates from both political parties. “This conference showed me not only how much NEA is respected as a bipartisan association amongst politicians but also how valuable the voices of all members are to the NEA. I am even prouder now of the great accomplishments PSEA-PACE has made in supporting candidates, whether Democrat or Republican, who pledge to fight for educational, health care, and labor issues. I greatly appreciate President Testerman affording me this opportunity.”
This year, NEA members heard from the country’s top leaders in education and politics, including Michael Steele, RNC chairman; Tom Davis, chairman of the Republican Main Street Partnership; Amy Walter, Hotline; and Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president.
Odell, who attended the Republican Leaders Conference for the first time, saw improving public education as an end goal for their efforts. “This conference emphasized the need for teachers to reach out and dialogue with politicians on both sides of the political aisle if we are to improve our educational system.”
The NEA Republican Leaders Conference builds on NEA’s efforts over the past three years to engage its 1 million members who identify as Republicans and assist them in advocating for public education. The NEA has consistently increased its outreach to Republican NEA members, including conducting focus groups and developing manuals to help them become more involved in the political process, and their local and state Republican parties.