OEA Spring Representative Assembly

OEA’S 2024 SPRING REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY

The 2024 Spring RA will be held on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Union Station Ballroom.  

For questions about the Representative Assembly, please contact William Baird, Elections & Conference Coordinator, at 614-227-3169 or by email at oeara@ohea.org.

 

Delegates to 2023 OEA Spring Representative Assembly take action to protect, defend, and strengthen public education in Ohio

Delegates to the 2023 OEA Spring Representative Assembly (RA) held May 12-13 took action to support building a movement to protect, defend, and strengthen public education in Ohio, endorsing the OEA Public Education Matters initiative. The 570 registered delegates also adopted a new OEA Vision Statement, voted to support the Education Support Professional Educator Voice Academy action plan, and endorsed the recommendations of the OEA Educator Voice Academy Cadre on Social and Emotional Learning, among other actions.

During the first session held the evening of May 12, delegates remembered Sally Savage, who served as OEA President from 1976-1978; OEA Secretary-Treasurer William Dorsey, OEA Executive Committee member Marsha Stegmoyer, and Lori Gray, who served as an OEA staff member for more than 20 years.

OEA President Scott DiMauro recognized OEA’s 2023 award and scholarship recipients, sharing a video of 2023 honorees for the Jean Kershaw Scholarship—Anesha Ward (Capital University); John F. Kennedy Scholarship—Kyle Heimbrock (West Clermont Education Association); Marilyn Cross Scholarship—Kelli Edinger (Columbus Education Association); Blue Ribbon Association Award—Lorain Education Association; Media Award for Public Service—Statehouse News Bureau; OEA Friend of Education Award—Honesty for Ohio Education; and Charles A. Glatt/Human and Civil Rights Award—Renee Powell.

Presenting the Association’s 2023-2024 Adjusted Budget Report, OEA Secretary-Treasurer Mark Hill noted that for the coming fiscal year, OEA has set the adjusted budget projection for membership at 114,630 members. “The projected reduction is a result of planning conservatively for several factors: a possible national economic recession, uncertainty in school funding from the state, as well as unfilled teacher and support staff positions,” Hill said. “These factors contribute to fewer filled positions in our schools and their effect is to depress membership counts.

“We must continue to insist that the Ohio General Assembly pass the Fair School Funding Act to ensure our schools are properly funded and that schools have the resources to offer compensation that attracts and retains high quality teachers and support staff.”

OEA’s revenue is tied to the average teacher salary reported by the Ohio Department of Education, which, after a decline in 2021, has increased in the last three years. The increase positively impacts revenue to offset membership losses.

Accordingly, OEA has budgeted for dues to increase for fiscal year 2024 because of an increase of 2.7% in the Average Teacher Salary from $65,347 to $67,072 and the proportional increase in dues from the formula. Both factors result in an overall $15 dues increase for Fulltime Educators from the current annual amount of $562 to $577 and a $8 increase for Fulltime ESPs from $314 to $322. The original budget anticipated a 1% increase in Average Teacher Salary.

In his address presented during the second assembly session, President DiMauro spoke about the many attacks in Ohio and throughout the nation to undermine confidence and support in public education.

“Make no mistake, attacks on public education have risen to new levels since the start of the pandemic,” DiMauro said. “But as I look around this room, I know we’re the right people at the right time doing the right work to not only to protect public education but to promote and strengthen it as well.”

“Whether you’re a classroom teacher, a bus driver, school secretary, counselor, nurse, school social worker, custodian, or serve in any role in our public schools, colleges, and universities, your role is essential. You make a meaningful difference in the lives of your students, now and well into the future. Your work matters. Public education matters. When you think about it, it really is the heart of everything we need to have a thriving economy, a thriving democracy, and a hopeful future.”

Following his remarks, DiMauro recognized 2023 OEA Education Support Professional of the Year Amy Ballard who was unable to attend the RA. He then welcomed 2023 Ohio Teacher of the Year Melissa Kmetz who addressed delegates.

Kmetz focused on the importance of actively seeing students, having support and solidarity, and finding joy.

“What does it mean to actually see someone? Seeing is different than looking. Seeing involves a response. It’s a choice. It’s an action. As educators, we have to actively choose to see our kids. And I mean, really see them. You have to be able to say ‘I see you’ to kids and mean it. If not, you have to say the other three—’I failed you.’ And no one wants to do that.

Seeing kids does not have to be a huge action. It’s the little day-to-day things we do that mean just as much if not more. Seeing kids means going beyond physical attributes and academic performance. It means seeing students as unique individuals with unique backgrounds, experience, emotions, and strengths. It means creating a safe space for all our kids. It’s being present and engaged, showing empathy, building trust, celebrating diversity, building relationships, finding a way to bring out the best in our kids even when they can’t see it in themselves.

Seeing kids means making sure they leave us every day knowing that they are loved, respected, and valued. It is a level 10 affirmation. It’s being able to say, ‘I’ve got you.’ …Seeing kids is absolutely essential. And we have to see kids before we can educate them.”

In her address, OEA Executive Director Patricia Collins Murdock spoke of the challenges and opportunities that motivate OEA members to stand up and advocate for public education and the students they serve every day. Collins Murdock discussed the work of OEA’s three Educator Voice Academy teams to investigate some of the serious challenges facing educators and education support professionals in Ohio and to recommend actions for OEA—and state policymakers—to address these challenges. OEA’s initial EVA focused on teacher recruitment and retention while two other EVAs were convened to address the recruitment and retention of education support professionals and social emotional learning.

“Members understand the significance of having enough highly qualified education professionals in every role within the school building and recognize the importance of strong teacher preparation programs and competitive salaries that impact Ohio’s ability to recruit and retain well-trained and experienced educators,” she said. “Members are aware of the need to provide educators with the resources and support needed to navigate challenges they encounter in the classroom and in their communities. OEA members know they must advocate at the local, state, and federal level to create the change necessary to advance their profession and to provide their students with a quality public education.”

In the spirit of advocating for public education, Collins Murdock said, OEA is launching the Public Education Matters initiative. She introduced Assistant Executive Director Airica Clay who shared that the initiative focuses on three key elements: respect and dignity of OEA educators and their students; fully funded supports and resources; and lifting united voices in support of public education.

“This initiative gives us a voice to help uplift public education,” Clay said. “It’s a chance to share your stories about why you chose to be a public educator, what public education means to you, and what investment in public education truly means. This initiative is a huge opportunity for us to work collectively to change the narrative about public education.”

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. Wensing detailed legislative efforts targeting the LGBTQIA+ community by requiring schools participating in K-12 and higher education athletic events to designate separate single-sex athletic teams based on the sex of the participants; interfering with Ohio’s colleges and universities and higher education employees; defunding public schools and local government; proposing massive expansions in eligibility for school vouchers; attacking majority rule and silencing the voice of Ohioans; and reforming the State Board of Education and the Department of Education.

He applauded the immense potential win with an increase in the state minimum teacher’s salary from $30,000 to $40,000 which passed in the House version of the state budget. And he shared the OEA’s continuing work with legislators to end the third-grade reading guarantee retention provision and eliminate unnecessary testing.

“Together we have done amazing things, and we can continue to demand that every child across the Buckeye State has the same quality education regardless of where they are from and that schools have the resources to hire caring, quality educators for every student.” Wensing said. “But to achieve this goal, we need to keep going. We need to continue to elevate our collective voices and make sure our elected leaders know and understand what it means when we say Public Education Matters!”

During the Spring RA, delegates elected the following statewide candidates: Dwayne Marshall (Gahanna-Jefferson EA)—NEA Director #1 (with a term ending 8/31/2026); Amy Butcher (Westlake TA)—NEA Director #2 (with a term ending 8/31/2026); Dr. Lisa Johnson (Columbus EA)—OEA Board of Directors At-Large-1 (with a term ending 7/14/2026); Tonya Horn (Green Local Assoc. SS)—OEA Board of Directors ESP At-Large-1 (with a term ending 7/14/2026); and George Hoover (Barnesville ACE)—OEA Board of Directors ESP At-Large-2 (with a term beginning 8/1/2023 and ending 7/14/2024).

Delegates also approved the appointment of Eugene Norris to the OEA Appeals Board for a seven-year term ending August 31, 2030.
Also approved during the assembly was the proposed 2023-2024 Resolutions Report, as amended.

RA delegates passed the following New Business Items:

  • SP-2023-01—The Representative Assembly adopts the OEA Vision Statement as recommended by the Board of Directors: To create an Ohio where every student has access to a high-quality public education and where all members are supported, valued, and respected.
  • SP-2023-02—The Ohio Education Association will provide the necessary budget and staffing support to carry out the action plan created by the Education Support Professional Educator Voice Academy. Specifically, the Educator Voice Academy actions will need staff and budget support to organize activities included but not limited to:
    • Reaching out to ESP members at OEA meetings over the summer to raise awareness and gather support for a movement to increase wages and build respect for ESPs
    • Conducting 1:1 conversations with ESP local leaders
    • Organizing a meeting of ESP Presidents with the goal of getting member voice and state approval to build membership and power
    • Organizing local listening meetings to gather member input
    • Creating an ESP specific page on the OEA Website
  • SP-2023-03—The OEA Representative Assembly endorses the recommendations of the OEA Educator Voice Academy Cadre on Social and Emotional Learning. Specifically, OEA’s EPRMA Department will develop bargaining guidance that promotes the inclusion of OEA members as active participants in the selection of Social and Emotional Learning curriculum, advocates for continued professional development that supports the effective implementation of that curriculum, and that requires OEA members to be partners in the development of a social and emotional learning curriculum implementation timeline at the local level. Bargaining guidance would provide a starting point for contract and/or MOU language that supports OEA member inclusion in these processes. Recommended actions include:
    • OEA staff locate, curate, and host links to and titles of available social and emotional learning resources for OEA members.
    • OEA should develop and facilitate professional development and advocacy opportunities that stress the importance of educators prioritizing their social and emotional needs.
    • OEA should support member developed and member led professional development opportunities focused on social and emotional learning curriculum and implementation.
  • SP-2023-04—The Representative Assembly endorses the OEA Public Education Matters initiative, and in support of building a movement to protect, defend, and strengthen public education in Ohio, the Ohio Education Association shall conduct a mass solidarity event in Columbus for members and allies in the Fall of 2023.
  • SP-2023-05—OEA Government Relations will identify the names and electoral units of all Ohio legislators who voted in favor of legislation changing the vote required to amend the Ohio Constitution to 60%. OEA Government Relations will identify the names and electoral units of all Ohio legislators who voted in favor of legislation placing the issue on the August 2023 ballot. This information will appear in Ohio Schools and will be made available to OEA Fund meetings, including local screening councils, until the date of the spring 2026 Representative Assembly.
  • SP-2023-06—OEA will investigate the feasibility and benefits associated with creating cohorts similar to Ohio’s New Educators (ONE) with Member Ambassadors who can focus on the personal and professional needs of educators in the middle years and the final 10 years of their career and report the findings to the Representative Assembly in Spring 2024.
  • SP-2023-07—In order to increase involvement of all OEA members a special members column or forum should be a regular feature in Ohio Schools Magazine.

The delegates contributed $28,371.57 to the OEA Fund for Children and Public Education (OEA Fund). Winners of the OEA Fund giveaway were: $500—Susan Withers (Euclid TA), $300—Eric Olsen (Howland CTA), and $100—Jennifer Bahler (South-Western EA)

The following Constitution articles were read by title for possible amendment at the December 2023 RA: Article VI–Officers; Article IX–Affiliates; Article X–Amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws.