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Fall 2015

Cover Story

I am the Union

A new generation of NEA members is fighting for equal opportunity for all students. Teachers and education support professionals are standing together to demand better for our schools and our children and for the common good of our communities. They are NEA’s social justice activists.

Message from the Editor-in-Chief

We hope this issue inspires you to get involved in your Association!

Lily’s Blackboard

How educators across the nation are improving schools by demanding changes in policy and practice.


No Age Limit for Activism

New Jersey Retired Education Association and New Jersey Education Association have a thriving partnership that advocates for students and educators.

Girls in STEM

A teacher’s power to influence can either fuel or extinguish a girl’s elementary school dream of a successful STEM career.

Who Goes to College?

Rising tuition costs and other factors widen a college opportunity gap that leaves many without access to higher education.

Where are the Black Male Teachers?

Minority students have steadily become a majority in public schools, but government estimates indicate the number of teachers who look like them hasn’t kept pace.

First & Foremost

Are Educators Also Police Officers? It’s Up to the Supreme Court

The Reading Rush: What Educators Say About Kindergarten Reading Expectations

Experts: Keep ‘Grit’ Away From Teacher Evaluations

Anti-Bullying School Policies Continue to Fail LGBT Students

How Teachers Stay Creative In the High-Stakes Testing Era

Surviving the Teenage Brain: What Educators Should Know 

Why Students Drop Out: The Economic Pressures That Make Leaving School Unavoidable

Issues and Impact

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signs into law a bill that gives students and parents more power.

NEA’s Degrees Not Debt Campaign works to make education affordable.

We all want healthy, hunger-free kids—right?

Educators and parents demand less testing…and lawmakers listen. 

People & Places

California teacher works to make ethnic studies a requirement in his state.

Florida school houses nation’s first botany magnet program.

A teacher creates a book that teaches students about healthy lifestyles.

When Educators Get Elected, Good Things Happen!

Three educators talk about why they were inspired to run for political office, and what they’ve learned since winning their campaigns. Meet:

Education Support Professionals

ESPs Keep Students Challenged! Saul Ramos says his chief goal while working with blind students is to help them become independent in every aspect of their lives; paraeducator Lynn Goss provides students with personalized instruction and intervention; computer and instructor Katherine Davis created a website that helps students learn. Paraeducator Anthony Marie Johnson says “students know we care and want them to succeed.” 

Paraeducator Anthony Marie Johnson applauded for her local’s fight against outsourcing.  

Teaching and Learning

A teacher describes how Lego blocks improve students’ depth of knowledge; how to create a culturally responsive classroom; and a teacher librarian explains how to avoid overload when choosing technologies, and suggests ways to combat social media stress. 

Extra Credit

Contrary to assertions about plummeting membership numbers, NEA’s membership continues to grow.



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