BAT CAUCUS REFLECTIONS
BY: BECCA RITCHIE, NEA BAT CAUCUS CHAIR
Work for the caucus started back in February. A Google doc was set up for people to start dropping ideas. As the ideas poured in from both delegates and those who were not attending, the NEA resolutions were combed through to see if NEA had taken a position on the topic that would support what the desired action would be. After that, the strategic plan was looked at to see if the action also fit that document. As the NBIs (New Business Items) started to take shape, there was discussion around strategy to get them moved. Many thanks go to NEA leadership who helped us to understand the process, asked probing questions and showed us how everything fit together.
We had worked a floor strategy last year, but learned much more about the workings of it from colleagues at NCUEA this year. Understanding the process is half of the battle. Because of the extra time spent at the NCUEA conference this year, we were more prepared, better armed with pertinent arguments and hit a groove of presenting items that were researched, thought out and spoke clearly to the floor.
Applying for the caucus room and getting out that information ahead of time was important to our success. We had a room each day that allowed for us all to touch base and be ready when we got to the floor. As people joined the caucus, they were given membership cards and a bright green ribbon. The ribbon stood out so that BATs from around the country could easily identify each other and many new friendships were made because of it! BATs are never alone and this RA really showed that. 33 states are represented in the NEA BATs Caucus. Incredible!
Designing a membership form that was printed and ready when we got there helped members have a way to communicate within the caucus. We also created a Remind class that we used on the floor to help many of the new delegates, as well as those who had gone before, to activate our floor strategy as well as share information on social events that were scheduled. Orlando is very spread out and being able to communicate was so important.
I would be remiss to not mention the hard work from people who were at the NEA BAT caucus table. Marla Kilfoyle, the National BATs General Manager, coordinated people to be there to talk to delegates about what we do. Donna Mace and Cyndi Pelosi gave up time from their busy schedules to be in the booth. THANK YOU!! Several delegates also sacrificed to be there. Kathleen Jeskey and Jennifer Dorsey also spent time in the booth…you both simply rock! A huge shout out to Larry Proffit and his work at the table sharing information about what our caucus stands for. Also to Shannon Ergun for consolidating all the membership information into a spreadsheet that could be used to send out updated to members. This took time to do and it is very much appreciated.
Creating an electronic version of the NBI form that we could enter the information in was also something that helped our process. When we turned in our paperwork, the people on the stage looked at it and said “Bless you!” because it was easy to read and nice and tidy. Figuring out paperwork is a beast for many people. Making that process easier was a big plus. The floor strategy document was also clear and easy to understand this year. Having the bottom part of the sheet be consistent from one NBI to the next helped people understand their important role in the strategy. Julianna spent time strategically ordering the NBIs. It was thoughtful and powerful. Thanks go to her for the work she did to make sure our floor strategy was solid.
Adding in the position of a parliamentarian was huge this year. The first year I think we had around 25 people, last year we had 63. This year we have over 200 people. Making sure the work gets done and balancing the voice of people is challenging. We went through 14 NBIs in our caucus meetings in about 2 ½ hours. That is amazing. I appreciate David Hogan stepping right up and keeping me on time and advising me on decisions. With David assuming the position of East Vice Chair, a new parliamentarian will need to be selected. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to toss your name in for that.
I would like to personally thank Larry Proffitt and Lisa Muntean for their leadership as Vice Chairs the past two RAs. Your perseverance to get a fledging caucus up and going made such a difference. Also huge shout outs are well deserved to Michael Peña and Linda Myrick for your leadership in the treasurer and secretary positions. Michael and Linda will continue in their positions for the next 2 years. I would like to welcome Tina Andres from California as the new West Vice Chair and David Hogan as the East Vice Chair for the upcoming two years. I am looking forward to working with you as the caucus grows and develops.
We have several committees that need to get off the ground. If you are interested in being a part of any of them, please send me a message. We will need a membership committee, communication committee, endorsement committee, social committee and flood strategy committee. The caucus will grow with your involvement so don’t be shy! Let me know if you have interest in any of these groups.
BATs like to socialize! We had one meet and greet and one sing-a-long. Having the schedule from this year as we move forward, we can plan out times to get together in DC. The metro is a life saver there and getting around is much easier than Orlando. Let’s plan fun events so that the bonds between us strengthen. Is anyone up for a flash mob at the DOE??
My hope is that the lion’s share of the prep-work is done prior to heading to DC. I know many ideas pop up once gathered but if people can do the research, leg work and process part prior to getting there, we are better prepared. There will be several online meetings set up throughout the year to get set for RA 2016!
I am proud to be one of the many in this caucus and humbled to continue serving as the chair of the NEA BAT Caucus for the next two years. Together, we ALL make a difference for our students and our profession. As you look at the NEA BAT caucus logo, we educate, we agitate, we motivate, we strategize, we mobilize and we organize. We are doing this very important work. Thank you for being a part of this caucus and let’s continue to “Go cause some good trouble!”
Thank you for all of your work and looking forward to DC 2016!