Friday, July 6, 2012

NEA leader says social justice key to teacher unionism

Calling for the National Education Association to deepen its commitment to social justice and equal opportunity, NEA Executive Director John Stocks, received an enthusiastic reception from the nearly 9,000 delegates gathered from across the nation at the organization’s 150th annual convention.

Stocks recounted a long history of progressive stands taken by the NEA, and encouraged local and state leaders to continue that the tradition of standing on “the right side of history” and to "make America a more just society."

“We as a progressive labor union and social justice organization have to say, “No more” [to injustice,] Stocks declared.

He called on the audience to “challenge our country to be better, but also challenge ourselves as individuals to do better” and become "social justice patriots."

Covering a range of issues including voter suppression laws, Citizens United, inequality and poverty, immigration, stop and frisk police practices, and racial profiling, Stocks explained how the union has begun to deepen its ties to national civil rights and faith organizations to act against injustice.

At one point in his 28-minute speech after explaining the problem of racial profiling Stocks asked members to think about three questions:

“Does racial profiling start in our schools?”
“Does the pipeline to prison for minority students begin in our schools?”
“And if it does, what are we going to do about it?”

He recounted his and other NEA members’ participation in a recent march in New York City against the NYC police policy of “stop and frisk.”

 “It’s wrong, it’s unjust, and it’s not just happening in New York City,” Stocks declared. The NEA is developing in conjunction with the NAACP a racial profiling curriculum for educators, students and community leaders. Stocks added, “We must ensure that this topic is discussed responsibly and constructively in American schools so we can begin to end this behavior.”

He ended his speech to a thunderous applause saying, “It’s time now for another generation of NEA leaders and activists to … defend democracy, to fight for equal opportunity, to create a more just society to be activists for social justice and equal opportunity in America.”

To hear and view John Stock's entire speech click here.