Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Highly Qualified, ESEA and Native-American Student Issues

They called it the "lame duck" session of Congress, but there was still business being conducted at the Capitol. I mentioned in an earlier post that NEA Directors and State Presidents will lobby Congress on educational issues.

At this last NEA meeting, Carolyn Crowder, NEA Executive Committee member from Mustang, Linda Hampton, from Pleasant Grove and I met with Matt Blackburn, a staff member of Senator Tom Coburn.

This is the second time this year that we've met with Mr. Blackburn and he has told us that Senator Coburn understands the problems with the "Highly Qualified" issue for Special Education Teachers. In fact, Senator Coburn met with a parent, teacher, and others in Edmond to talk about this issue and said he would work hard to see that it's changed.

We also presented Matt with the NEA's postive agenda for changing ESEA. (aka No Child Left Behind). Matt said that he would share the information with Senator Coburn.

A third issue that we discussed with Matt dealt with H.R. 4766 and the issues concerning Native-American students.

Many people wonder what can get accomplished if you only get a chance to talk to a staff member instead of a Senator or Congressman. To be honest, a great deal can occur. The elected official will often have such great time restraints placed upon them, that if they do get to see you, it will be for a very limited time. Meeting with a staffer who can give you more time allows you the opportunity to explain your issue in even greater detail. They will be able to share your concerns and issues with the leader.

Sometimes you do get the chance to meet with your Congressman. In September, OEA members Becky Munholland from Healdton, Cheryl Dowell from Comanche, Janice Stotts, a retired member from McCloud, Linda Hampton and I met with Congressman Cole to discuss some of the same issues that we did with Senator Coburn's staff.

If you would like to help us make more of an impact on these issues, you can email Senator Coburn, and any of the Oklahoma Congressional team, through the OEA web page at www.okea.org or by going to www.nea.org/lac/index.html and entering your zip code in the box in the upper right corner. A drop down list will be given for those who represent your district.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone is interested in special educators. When I was being educated at OSU (1975-1979) special education was just beginning. No one really knew what we should be learning so we really weren't very well prepared for classrooms. The focus was on actual mental retardation with a little focus on learning disabilities. We were taught to teach life skills. Now at age 49, even with a master's degree, I may be unemployable. I feel that removing career skills and life skills from the public school and relegating them to Career Techs, which are still adult oriented, will be detrimental to Oklahoma students. I fear that No Child Left Behind is going to leave behind students who struggle with academics.

Roy Bishop said...

The OEA continues to work on the issue of "Highly Qualified" and I'll post on it again soon.