I noticed that the line at the "Great Public Schools for Every Child" booth was unusually short, so I grabbed a place and waited for my turn at one of the eight kiosks. Had I been a delegate, I would have swiped my I.D. card in the machine next to the computer, which would have told the NEA where I was from. The apron-wearing attendant used his card for me. So I was able to view the material, but not sign up to receive additional information. The interactive Web site asks users questions about the six components of the ...

It’s been fascinating to watch what a well-orchestrated, well-directed show these NEA leaders put on. They know how to set the mood. On Tuesday, after a morning session of “new business items,” the house lights were dimmed, spotlights started dancing across the arena, and the beat of the music started to pound. As if on cue, the audience began to wave preprinted signs, and President Reg Weaver’s voice took on that rhythm of a Southern preacher’s. The rally and march against California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s education spending plans had begun. “Promises made, promises not kept,” was ...

In the midst of all the patriotic celebrating, I sat down Monday with Kathleen Roberts, who has been coming to these NEA conventions for more than 50 years. Since she was dressed in a flag hat and flag scarf, I almost missed her amidst all the other similarly attired attendees. At 90, she’s still an elected delegate to the Representative Assembly from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, still volunteering to read to children in her town of Raynham, Mass., and still dressing up as Martha Washington to help students learn about important historical figures. Except for the years that her ...

Having covered the Democratic National Convention next door at the Staples Center back in 2000, I noticed just a couple of glaring differences between that gathering and my first exposure to the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly here at the Los Angeles Convention Center. There’s far less security at the NEA. There aren’t any metal detectors, and I was only asked once to show my badge. And Peter Jennings isn’t here. The similarities, on the other hand, are abundant—beach balls getting batted around among the delegates, goofy hats, and loud music to liven up the ...


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