A-1 PUBLIC EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that public educational opportunities for every American must be preserved and strengthened.
The Association also believes that public education is the cornerstone of our social, economic, and political structure, and it is of utmost significance in the development of moral, ethical, spiritual, and cultural values. The Association further believes that the state must maintain a system of public education that prepares its citizens to:
- Achieve functional proficiency in English, with emphasis on the development of basic reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
- Compute effectively to procure and/or dispense services and materials.
- Use critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.
- Exercise attitudes of good citizenship, societal productivity, and global awareness.
- Care for the environment.
- Appreciate the aesthetic and moral qualities of life.
- Formulate values that lead to continual growth and self-fulfillment.
- Recognize and appreciate the cultural, social, political, and religious differences.
- Use leisure time effectively and develop sound physical health habits.
- Develop skills in and/or an appreciation for the practical/technical and fine arts.
The Association further believes that its members should support public education by sending their children to public educational institutions. (98, 04)
A-2 PUBLIC MONIES FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports the principle that public funds appropriated for the education of pre-kindergarten to post-secondary students should be used solely for the support of such public education in the public elementary and secondary schools and public institutions of higher learning.
A-3 PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR QUALITY EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that public education is essential to maintain our democratic society. In order to provide quality education within the framework of equal educational opportunity, public funds must be invested in public education so that it is adequately supported. To achieve this end, such funding should be derived from an equitable balance of federal, state and local sources and be secured through broad-based tax programs. The Association believes that the adoption of such a funding pattern should not reduce local control of education. Further, the Association maintains that all education programs, curricular and co-curricular, should be funded through the regular school budget.
A-4 SCHOOL BUDGETS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that School Committees should have the right to establish their own budgets and levy their own taxes in order to avoid deficit spending and the early closing of schools.
A-5 TAX REFORM
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the State of Rhode Island has a tax program that is detrimental to public education.
Therefore, it is in the best interest of public education and the general welfare that the Association research better means of funding public education and recommends a tax program for the State that is equitable for all its citizens.
The Association supports tax reform, and it believes that tax reform should:
- Increase tax fairness and raise revenue necessary to finance quality public education and other public services.
- Prevent excessive reliance on property or any other single tax source.
- Not be used to place arbitrary maximum limits on any state or local government's ability to spend or tax, particularly since such limits have a negative impact on the funding of schools.
- Eliminate tax laws and rulings that are harmful to school employees and educational needs. (98, 04)
A-6 TEACHER IN CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the educational process is most effective when the responsibility for developing curricula and selecting instructional materials rests primarily with members of the teaching profession. To this end, the Association urges locals to negotiate contract language that would provide teachers with released time or an extended day, with financial compensation for these activities. (04)
A-7 COMPREHENSIVE CURRICULUM
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the foundation of a good educational system is a sound comprehensive curriculum that provides our students with opportunities for personal, social and academic growth and career development.
The Association encourages its members to develop programs that would serve to broaden students' appreciation with regard to diverse population groups such as the elderly and the disabled.
The Association further believes that these groups and programs should become an integral part of school life and deplores the reduction in school budgets that result in cuts in any program. (04)
A-8 DELETERIOUS PROGRAMS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the following programs and practices are detrimental to public education and must be eliminated: privatization, performance contracting, tax credits for tuition to private and parochial schools, voucher plans (or funding formulas that have the same effect as vouchers), planned program budgeting systems (PPBS), and evaluations by private, profit-making groups.
The Association believes that proposals that would allow or foster the flow of public monies to private, parochial or sectarian schools, the re-segregation of schools, a selectivity in admissions, the employment of unlicensed or uncertified educators, and a weakening of collective bargaining protections are detrimental to the health and well-being of the public schools and should be defeated.
The Association also believes that tax credit programs, management-by-objective systems, block grants and revenue sharing programs have at times been implemented in ways that are harmful to public education. The Association further believes such programs should be monitored to prevent such abuses. (98)
A-9 ACCEPTABLE CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OTHER NONTRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL OPTIONS
The National Education Association Rhode Island Rhode Island supports innovation in public education. The Association believes that acceptable charter schools, which comply with Association criteria, and other nontraditional public school options, have the potential to facilitate reforms, such as decentralized and shared decision making, diversity in educational offerings, and the removal of onerous administrative requirements. By developing new and creative methods of teaching and learning that can be replicated in mainstream public schools, these schools may be agents for positive change. The Association also believes that, when concepts such as charter schools and other nontraditional school options are proposed, affected public education employees should be directly involved in the design, implementation, and governance of these programs. The Association further believes that plans should not negatively impact the regular public school program and must include adequate safeguards covering contract and employment provisions for all employees, voluntary participation, health and safety standards for all students and employees, nondiscrimination and equal educational opportunity, staffing by licensed education professionals, and financial responsibility.
The Association believes that programs must be adequately funded, must comply with all standards for academic assessment applicable to regular public schools, must include start-up resources, must not divert current funds from the regular public school programs, and must contain appropriate procedures for regular periodic assessment and evaluation, as well as adequate attendance and record keeping procedures. The granting of charters should be consistent with the following principles:
- Charter schools should serve as laboratories for field-testing curricular and instructional innovations and/or to provide educational opportunities for students.
- Charter school programs must be qualitatively different from what is available in mainstream public schools and not just an avenue for parental choice.
- Local school boards should be the only entity that can grant or renew charter applications.
- The criteria for granting a charter should include a description of clear objectives, missions, and goals. Renewal of a charter should be contingent on the achievement of these objectives, missions, and goals.
- Appeals of local school board decisions in charter applications should be made to a state education agency but appeals should be heard only on the grounds of arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable decision making, not on the educational judgment of the local school board.
- Private, for-profit entities should not be eligible to receive a charter.
- Charter schools should have a limited right to contract with for-profit entities for services only to the extent that mainstream public schools can do so.
- Charters should not be granted for the purpose of home schooling, including providing services over the Internet to home schooled students.
- Charter schools should be nonsectarian in nature. Particular care should be exercised in granting charters to any religious institutions.
- Private schools should not be able to convert to charter school status. If state law allows such conversions, the chartering agency should ensure that the converted school is significantly different in student body, governance, and education program than its predecessor. This assurance should be especially vigorous in the case of schools with prior religious affiliation.
- Charters should be granted for a limited period with five years being the norm.
- Charter schools should be monitored on a continuing basis and the charter should be subject to modification or revocation at any time if the children’s or the public’s interest is at stake.
- Charters should not be granted unless the chartering agency is satisfied that adequate startup resources will be available. (06)
Charter schools should be designed and operated in accordance with the following principles:
- Charter schools may have flexibility within the requirements of law dealing with curriculum, instruction, staffing, budget, internal organization, calendar, and schedule.
- Charter schools must meet the same requirements as mainstream public schools with regard to licensure/certification and other requirements of teachers and education employees, health and safety, public records and meetings, finance and auditing, student assessment, civil rights, and labor relations.
- Teachers and education support professionals should be considered public employees.
- Teachers and education support professionals should have the same constitutional and statutory rights as other public employees.
- Charter schools should be subject to the same public sector labor relations laws as mainstream public schools and charter school employees should have the same collective bargaining rights under law and local practice as their counterparts in mainstream public schools.
- Students should not be charged tuition or required to pay a fee to attend a charter school.
- Students should not be involuntarily assigned to attend a charter school.
- Charter schools should have some discretion in selecting or rejecting students if they are designed to serve a targeted student population. Students shall not be screened on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and/or gender identification, English-language proficiency, family income, athletic ability, special needs, parental involvement in school affairs, intellectual potential, academic achievement, or cost of educating the student. Indirect screening such as denying admission because of the cost of transportation of a student shall not be permitted.
- Charter schools must meet the needs of at-risk students and those students requiring special education services.
- Employment in a charter school should be voluntary. Employees in conversion charter schools should be afforded an opportunity to transfer to a comparable position at another mainstream public school.
- Charter schools shall not divert resources from mainstream public schools. (06)
A-10 VOUCHER PLANS AND TUITION TAX CREDITS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that voucher plans and tuition tax credits or funding formulas that have the same effect —under which pre-K through 12 non-public school education is subsidized by tax monies —undermine public education, reduce the support needed to adequately fund public education, and have the potential for racial, economic and social segregation of children. The Association opposes all attempts to establish and/or implement such plans. (98)
A-11 CHOICE/PARENTAL OPTION PLANS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that parental option or choice plans compromise the Association's commitment to free, equitable, universal, and quality public education for every student. The Association further believes that local districts, in partnership with the state and federal governments, must provide a quality education for every student by securing sufficient funding to maintain and to enhance excellence in each local public school district. The Association continues to support alternative programs in the public schools for specific purposes. The Association opposes federal or state-mandated choice or parental option plans.
A-12 MEDIA UTILIZATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the broadcasting industry must serve the public interest and educational process. The Association encourages the creative and innovative use of radio, television, videotapes, audiotapes, and computers/electronic media for improving instruction. It is essential that teachers or their designees have the right to record, save, and/or utilize programs/media for educational purposes.
The Association also believes its affiliates must become involved in the program development and utilization of each of these media resources. The Association also believes that its locals should partner with regional media resources to develop appropriate and relevant educational programming and classroom materials. The Association strongly supports the continuation of local, state, and federal financial support for public broadcasting.
The Association further believes that the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS television), cable television, and satellite broadcast service and content providers should provide communication services to educators. (98, 02, 04)
B-1 STANDARDS FOR STUDENT LEARNING
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes in high standards that describe clear expectations for what students should know and be able to do. Throughout the implementation of content and performance standards, all students must be provided the instructional opportunities and learning conditions necessary to attain the standards. The Association supports the development and use of a variety of assessments that are appropriate to the standards. (03)
B-2 CONTINUING EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes that education is a life-long process and that a large proportion of the adult population of Rhode Island could benefit from the opportunity to complete or continue their education. Therefore, the Association encourages the expansion of continuing education programs in local communities and in institutions of higher education, including active efforts to identify and receive public funds to support such programs. Continuing education programs should provide increased opportunities for the hiring of unemployed and underemployed teachers. (04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports efforts to promote state-sponsored and/or community-based literacy programs for adults and to provide adequate funding for these programs. The Association recognizes that one of the most effective ways of combating illiteracy is to provide education programs that promote functional proficiency in English, with emphasis on the development of those basic reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills essential for success in other disciplines and everyday life. (94)
B-4 EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports early childhood education programs in the public schools for children from birth through age eight. The Association also supports a high-quality program of transition from home and/or preschool to public kindergarten or first grade. This transition should include communication and cooperation among parent(s)/guardian(s), the preschool staff, and the public school staff. The Association believes that such programs should be held in facilities that are appropriate to the developmental needs of these children.
The Association also believes that early childhood education programs should include a full continuum of services for parent(s)/guardian(s) and children, including childcare, child development, developmentally appropriate and diversity-based curricula, special education, and appropriate bias-free screening. Early childhood education programs also must be sensitive to and meet the physical, social, mental, and emotional health and nutritional needs of children.
The Association further believes that early childhood education programs should maintain small group size with appropriate staff to child ratios for each age level. These programs must be staffed by the appropriate ratio of teachers, administrators, and support staff who are prepared in early childhood education and child development. When one teacher teaches two half-day sessions, the total class load for both sessions should not exceed the number of students in a first-grade class. Males should be encouraged and recruited to enter and be actively involved in early childhood education.
Preparation programs for staff should lead to credentials consistent with high educational standards.The Association recognizes the importance of parental involvement in a child's development. The Association further supports the provision of training programs that prepare parent(s)/guardian(s) to take an active role in the child's education. These programs should provide an awareness of the expectations that will be placed upon the child as well as a familiarization and orientation of the policies and procedures that the child will experience in his/her new environment.
The Association also believes that legislation should be enacted to assist in organizing the implementation of fully funded early childhood education programs offered through the public schools. These programs must be available to all children on an equal basis and should include kindergarten with compulsory attendance.
The Association supports regulations requiring that a child starting kindergarten must have reached age five by September 1st of the year that s/he begins her/his kindergarten experience.
The Association advocates the establishment of fully funded early childhood special education programs. These programs and necessary associated services should be readily accessible for children with disabilities and staffed by certified/licensed teachers, qualified support staff, and therapists. (04)
B-5 HIGHER EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that higher education is an essential part of the education process. The Association further believes that post-secondary education serves an invaluable function for intellectual development, for research and scholarship, for career preparation, and for preparation for life. The Association supports access to collegiate programs for all qualified students without regard to age, gender, sexual orientation/gender identification, ethnicity, religion, military registration status, or ability to pay. (94, 02)
B-6 CLASS SIZE
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that excellence in the classroom can best be attained by a class size that allows for the optimum development of a student's potential. Class size and daily student-teacher contacts must allow for individual attention to each pupil. The Association urges its affiliates to seek an optimum class size of fifteen (15) students. The Association urges locals to resist efforts to circumvent laws, regulations, and policies that mandate maximum class size and maximum teaching loads. (04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that America's culturally diverse heritage is inseparable from this nation's principles of democracy and freedom. The Association recognizes the fact that prejudice, a product of ignorance, causes ethnic, racial, sexist, and religious stereotyping which is divisive and inimical to the traditions of our nation. In view of its total commitment to education, the Association must continue to work to provide for variety and flexibility in curricula designed to focus attention on the achievements of America's various cultural groups and the obstacles each has had to face. The Association urges the development of intelligent and constructive courses of study, adequate instructional materials, and the strengthening of teacher preparation along with the recruitment and promotion of teachers from culturally diverse groups to achieve these aims. (04)
B-8 GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING SERVICE
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that guidance and counseling programs should be integrated into the entire education system pre-kindergarten through higher education. Such programs should be provided through a maximum counselor/student ratio of 1:250 by appropriately certified and/or licensed school counselors who have been prepared to support students in realizing their full potential in all areas of growth and achievement. (00, 04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes in the equality of all individuals. Discrimination and stereotyping based on such factors as race, gender, immigration status, disability, ethnicity, occupation, religion, and sexual orientation/gender identification must be eliminated.
The Association also believes that plans, activities, and programs for education employees, students, parents and the community should be developed to identify and eliminate discrimination and stereotyping in all educational settings. Such plans, activities and programs must:
- Increase acceptance of and sensitivity to individuals and groups in a diverse society.
- Eliminate discrimination and stereotyping in the curriculum, textbooks, resource and instructional materials, activities, etc.
- Foster the use of nondiscriminatory, non-racist, non-sexist and non-stereo-typical language, resources, practices and activities.
- Eliminate institutional discrimination.
- Integrate an accurate portrayal of the roles and contributions of all groups throughout history across the curriculum.
- Identify how prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination have limited the roles and contributions of individuals and groups.
- Eliminate subtle practices that favor the education of one student over another on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation/gender identification. (98, 02, 04)
B-10 EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that English Language Learners (ELL) students must have programs available to them that address their unique needs and that provide equal opportunity to all students, regardless of their primary language. Programs for ELL students should emphasize English proficiency while concurrently providing meaningful instructions in all other curriculum areas.
The Association also believes that ELL students should be placed in bilingual education programs to receive instruction in their native language from qualified teachers until such time as English proficiency is achieved. If no bilingual programs are available, these students should be taught in English-as-a-second-language (ESL) programs designed to meet their specific needs.Students should not be enrolled in special education classes solely because of linguistic differences.
The Association values bilingual and multilingual competence and supports programs that assist individuals in attaining and maintaining proficiency in their native language before and after they acquire proficiency in English. (98, 02, 04)
B-11 DIVERSITY EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the goal of diversity education is the recognition of individual and group differences and similarities in order to reduce racism, ethnic prejudices, and other forms of discrimination and to develop self-esteem as well as respect for others.
The Association supports the development and implementation of comprehensive educator training programs to promote respect, understanding, and appreciation for the diversity of humanity. (04)
B-12 EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS FOR ADOLESCENT PARENTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that school districts must meet the educational needs of adolescent students who are parents or who are about to become parents. Such students should not be discriminated against or denied equal educational opportunities.
The Association recommends programs for these students that include:
- Flexible scheduling and attendance policies.
- Appropriate guidance in continuing/alternative education programs and productive employment.
- Development of self-esteem.
- Promotion of sound health practices regarding nutrition, substance abuse, exercise, family planning and parenting skills.
- On-site childcare services. (98)
B-13 EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports a free, appropriate public education for all students with disabilities in a least restrictive environment, which is determined by maximum teacher and parent/guardian involvement. There must be a full continuum of placement options and services/delivery models available to students with disabilities. In order to implement federal special education legislation effectively, the Association recognizes that
- A fully accessible educational environment, using appropriate instructional materials, support services, and pupil personnel services, must match the learning needs of both students with and students without disabilities.
- Student placement must be based on individual needs rather than on available space, funding, or local philosophy of a school district. Student placements must be examined on a regular basis to ensure appropriateness whereby all needed services and support will be provided and should not be made disproportionately by ethnicity or gender. Necessary building/ staff modifications must be provided to facilitate such placement.
- General and special education teachers, pupil personnel and related service providers, education support professionals who work with the student, administrators, parents/guardians, and the student, as appropriate, should have input in the development of the individualized education program (IEP) and must have access to the IEP.
- General and special education teachers; pupil personnel and related service providers; education support professionals; administrators, parents/guardians, and students, as appropriate, must share in implementing the IEP. Prior to implementation, all necessary educational materials, professional development, and supportive services must be provided.
- Students with physical disabilities and/or medical needs requiring nursing procedures must have their medical needs met by certified/professional school nurses.
- All impacted staff members must have an appeal procedure regarding the implementation of the IEP, especially in terms of student placement. The procedure must include the right to have the dissenting opinion recorded and attached to the IEP.
- Suspension and expulsion policies and practices used by local education agencies must be applied consistently to both students with and students without disabilities where misconduct is shown to be unrelated to either the disabling condition or to improper placement.
- A plan recognizing individual differences must be used in a systematic evaluation and reporting of program development.
- Limitations must be made in class size, case loads, and/or work load of teachers, nurses, speech and language specialists, and other designated instructional service specialists, using methods such as weighted formulas, modified scheduling, and/or curriculum design to accommodate the demands of each IEP.
- All teachers who serve students with disabilities must have scheduled access to resource personnel, instructional assistants, paraprofessionals, co-teachers, and special education teachers.
- The student’s IEP should not be used as criteria for the evaluation of education employees.
- Communications must be maintained among all involved parties.
- Staff must not be reduced.
- All school personnel, including substitutes, must be adequately prepared for their roles, including addressing the identified individual needs of students, through appropriate licensing and/or ongoing professional development.
- Incentives for participation in professional development activities should, as mandated by law, be made available for education employees.
- Education employees, as mandated by law, must be appointed to local and state advisory bodies on special education.
- Education employees must be allowed to take part in the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services on-site visits to states. Education employees should be invited to these meetings.
- Local affiliates and education employees must be recruited, trained, and involved in monitoring school system compliance with federal special education legislation.
- Adequate released time or funded additional time must be made available so that teachers can carry out the increased demands placed upon them by federal special education legislation.
- Collective bargaining and other means should be used to minimize the potentially severe impact on staff that results from the implementation of special education legislation.
- Benefits for staff working with students with disabilities must be negotiated through collective bargaining agreements and must be honored.
- Full funding must be provided by local, state, and federal governments.
- Students are better served if the person working with them is prepared to deal with their needs. Substitute employees should be made aware that the assignment offered is a special needs program. (02, 04, 08)
B-14 ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS FOR AT-RISK and/or SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes that there must be increased development and maintenance of alternative programs to meet the needs of at-risk students, pre-Kindergarten through adulthood. The Association recommends early and appropriate identification and placement of these students. Teachers and administrators should receive necessary training in diagnostic processes and alternative methods of teaching and learning. Appropriate training should be provided to educational support staff.
Programs should emphasize a broad range of activities for responding to students' differing behavioral patterns, interests, needs and learning styles. These programs must be evaluated on stated objectives. Teachers in these programs must have a major role in designing the objectives and evaluations and working with appropriate school and community personnel to achieve these objectives and evaluations. (98, 04)
B-15 GIFTED STUDENTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that there must be educational programs and services for gifted, talented, and creative students, and supports funding for the education of these students. The Association also believes that there must be well-developed criteria and guidelines for identifying and teaching these students. Such identification must not discriminate on any basis other than the exceptionality being identified.
The Association urges its locals to promote the development and implementation of such services to gifted children and provide support for all educators working with this special needs population.The Association further believes that professional development programs in gifted and talented education must be provided for all appropriate education employees. (04)
B-16 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that protection of the environment must be a priority.
The Association urges a greater participation by all citizens in the important area of maintenance and preservation of the environment of the state and nation. The Association further urges educators at all levels and of all disciplines to incorporate into their lessons materials which will bring about a greater awareness in their students of the delicate balance that exists in nature and the means to preserve this balance. (98)
B-17 FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island urges its affiliates and members to support appropriately established family life education programs, including information on birth control and family planning, parenting skills, prenatal care, sexually transmitted diseases, incest and sexual abuse, the effects of substance abuse during pregnancy, and problems associated with and resulting from preteen and teenage pregnancies. The Association further urges that formal sex education should include parent orientation and be planned and implemented with careful attention to developmental needs, appropriateness to community settings and values, and respect for individual differences.
Teachers must be qualified to teach in this area and must be legally protected from censorship and lawsuits. (04)
B-18 HIV/AIDS EDUCATION PROGRAMS
The National Education Association Rhode Island urges that school systems and institutions of higher education establish and implement comprehensive HIV/AIDS education programs which will provide information about prevention options, including abstinence and medically accepted protective devices. (04)
B-19 SCIENTIFIC CREATIONISM
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes the importance of teaching scientific method and principles as the appropriate route to understanding of the physical world. The Evolutionary Theory is an integral part of the scientific method as it applies to biology. The Association opposes any effort to undermine science education by introducing the teaching of "scientific" creationism, a distortion of scientific method.
B-20 CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that a goal of public education is to provide all individuals, preschool through adulthood, opportunities to become effective, productive citizens. To achieve this goal, the career education concept must be interwoven into the total educational system and must include programs in gender-free career awareness and exploration to aid students in career course selection.
The Association also believes that vocational and technical education is a major component of education and advocates that every student have the opportunity to enroll in such classes without restrictions. Exploratory courses should be coordinated with traditionally academic courses and industrial and practical arts education courses. These academic programs and industrial programs should be combined, when appropriate, with cooperative efforts on the part of educators and industrial and business leaders to provide school-to-work experiences for students.Professional development experiences and released time for teachers for curriculum development must be provided. (97)
B-21 FINE ARTS EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that artistic expression is basic to an individual's intellectual, aesthetic and emotional development. The Association also believes that fine arts transcend cultural barriers, foster multicultural understanding, and enhance critical thinking skills. The Association, therefore, believes that every elementary and secondary school curriculum must include a balanced, comprehensive, and sequential program of fine arts instruction for all students taught by a licensed specialist in a facility or room designed and equipped for that purpose. Resources must be provided to maintain and upgrade materials and provide for emerging technologies.
The Association urges its local affiliates to become involved in the promotion, expansion, and implementation of an academic fine arts program in the curriculum. (98)
B-22 STANDARDIZED TESTING OF STUDENTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that standardized tests and/or assessments should be used only to improve the quality of education and instruction for students. Standardized tests, whether norm-, criterion-, or standards-referenced, can validly assess only a limited range of student learning. Therefore, they should be only an adjunct or supplement to information obtained through school- and classroom-based assessment conducted by teachers for purposes of supporting and strengthening instruction as well as for summarizing and evaluating student learning. Standardized tests are most useful when designed by the educational professionals closest to the classroom and integrated with assessment information specific to local programs.
Affiliates should advocate for and states and test designers should employ a variety of developmentally appropriate assessment techniques that allow for universal design, necessary accommodations, modifications, and exemptions and are bias-free, reliable, and valid. When a test and/or assessment is mandated at the local, state, or national level, it should be reviewed by a panel of appropriate subject area specialists and teachers to ascertain the relevance of the test to the subject area and be used only to evaluate a program’s effectiveness toward meeting local, state, or national standards and/or goals.The Association also believes that, in order for standardized achievement tests and/or assessments to support quality education:
- Standards must be prioritized to support effective curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessment.
- Stakeholders must determine high priority standards. These standards must be clearly and thoroughly described so that the knowledge and skills students need to demonstrate are evident.
- Valid results of assessment of high priority standards must be reported standard- by-standard for each student, school, and district.
- The breadth of the curriculum must be monitored to ensure that attention is given to all standards and subject areas, including those that are not assessed.
- Progress should be continually monitored to ensure that assessments are appropriate for the purposes for which they are intended.
- Students with special needs and/or limited English proficiency should have appropriate alternative options to standardized testing to measure individual progress and proficiencies.
The Association opposes the use of standardized tests and/or assessments when:
- Used as the criterion for the reduction or withholding of any educational funding.
- Results are used to compare students, teachers, programs, schools, communities, and states.
- Used as a single criterion for high stakes decision making, such as graduation requirements or grade promotion.
- The results lead to sanctions or other punitive actions.
- Arbitrary standards are required.
- They do not match the motor skills and/or academic developmental levels or language proficiency of the students being tested.
- Student scores are used to evaluate teachers or to determine compensation or employment status.
- Programs are specifically designed to teach to the test.
- Testing programs or tests limit or supplant instructional time.
- Every student is required to be tested every year.
- Students and parents/guardians are not provided with a complete report of the individual student’s test results
- Time required to administer the test exceeds reasonable and appropriate limits for the age of the student.
- Test preparation impedes or discourages learning, constrains the curriculum in ways that threaten the quality of teaching and learning for students, or limits and/or curtails future educational opportunities of learners.
- Scores are used to track students.
- Students with special needs or limited English proficiency are required to take the same tests as regular education students without modifications and/or accommodations.
The administration of a standardized test and/or assessment includes the responsibility to educate the stakeholders about the purpose of the test, the meaning of the test results, and the accurate interpretation of its conclusions. The Association further believes that students, parents/guardians, teachers, administrators, schools, and school districts should not be penalized for parents/guardians exercising their legal rights to exempt their children from standardized tests and/or assessments. The Association believes that states should be encouraged to make test items public after they are no longer used. (98, 02, 04, 08)
B-23 SCHOOL YEAR
The National Education Association Rhode Island vigorously opposes any reduction of the currently mandated 180-day school year since any decrease will result in diminishing educational benefits to students. The Association believes that local affiliates must participate fully in the design, authorization, implementation, and evaluation of summer school, the extended school year and year-round schools. Policies governing these must take into consideration the impact on the community and be in accordance with the Association's principles for professional salaries and class size. Any changes in these policies or definitions must be agreed upon through negotiations. The Association urges rigid enforcement of existing regulations or laws pertaining to the length of the school day. (94, 04)
B-24 SCHOOL ATTENDANCE
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes that regular school attendance is a major factor in ensuring a student's successful completion of school. The Association urges school administrators to implement realistic equitable attendance policies that will help instill a sense of responsibility in their students. The Association believes that state laws regarding students' work schedules, wages, and working conditions should be monitored, enforced, and strengthened.
The National Education Association Rhode Island encourages its locals to investigate alternate techniques in dealing with disruptive children. To this end, the Association will provide resources and/or will assist locals in organizing workshops or in-service programs in an effort to identify causes of disruptive behavior and provide varied approaches to classroom management. (94, 04)
B-26 TECHNOLOGY IN THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that technology in the educational process improves the learning opportunities for students, improves the quality of instruction, and improves the effectiveness of education employees. Technology can provide opportunities to reduce educational inequities.
The Association supports increased federal, state, and local resources, along with public/private partnerships, to fully fund equipment purchases/leases/upgrades, maintenance, technical support, training, evaluation, and staffing to support the full use of technology in public schools, public colleges, and public universities. The Association also believes that:
- Education employees must have access to the necessary technology for managing and advancing instruction. Such technology must be compatible with, up to date with, and of the same quality as technology in general use outside education. Further, employees should be provided encouragement, time, and the resources needed to successfully integrate this and other technologies into the curriculum.
- Education employees, including representatives of the local association, must be involved in all aspects of technology utilization, including planning, materials selection, implementation, and evaluation.
- Ongoing professional development must be provided for education employees in the use, integration, and application of technologies to enhance instruction.
- Teacher preparation in instructional technology must begin in college and university programs and extend through continuing opportunities for professional development.
- Effective use of technology, including distance learning, requires a licensed teacher in every classroom. Instructional technology should be used to support instruction, but no reduction of position, hours, or compensation should occur as a direct or indirect result of any technological programs.
- Students must have access to and instruction in technology and the responsible use of technology. Further, there must be equity in training, funding, and participation for all students.
- The impact of technology on education employees should be subject to local collective bargaining agreements.
- Education employees should own the copyright to materials that they create in the course of their employment. (96, 02, 06)
B-27 SCHOOL LIBRARIES/MEDIA CENTERS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes every student must have a comprehensive school library media program within his or her educational setting. This program should include a certified/licensed school library media specialist and qualified education support professionals; a variety of print, non-print, and electronic resources to supplement and complement curricular needs; relevant technology; and instruction in library research and information skills. (06)
B-28 CONFLICT-RESOLUTION EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports the adoption and use, at all educational levels, of proven conflict-resolution strategies, materials, and activities by school districts, education employees, students, parent(s)/guardian(s), and the school community to encourage nonviolent resolution of interpersonal and societal conflicts.
The Association recognizes the importance of students having the appropriate social skills necessary to participate in a democratic society. Programs that instruct the skills of positive social interaction should be incorporated into academic programming. (00, 04)
C-1 CERTIFIED NURSE-TEACHERS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all children should be provided proper health care and education. Therefore, the Association urges that certified nurse-teachers be hired to meet the standard of one certified nurse-teacher for every 500 students. (04)
C-2 MEDICATION AND MEDICAL SERVICES IN SCHOOLS
The National Education Association Rhode Island urges school districts to establish procedures for students who must use prescribed medication or who need other medical services during school hours. These procedures should provide that:
- Only medical personnel are required to administer such medication or perform such medical services.
- A physician's written verification of the student's need for medication or services is required.
- Written permission of the parent(s)/guardian(s) is/are required.
- The initial dosage of medication is not given in the school except in life- threatening situations. Initial dosage is the first dosage administered from the prescription.
- Each medication given is recorded on a medication log that includes date, time and signature of the person giving the medication.
- Medications are delivered in and dispensed from a container properly labeled with the name and strength of medication, name of patient, name of physician, date of the original prescription, expiration date of prescription, and directions for use.
- Proper storage for the medication is available.
The Association also urges its affiliates to work for legislation that will protect school personnel from all liability when the adopted procedure is followed and if school personnel refuse to administer medication under any other circumstances. (04)
C-3 FAMILY STABILITY FOR CHILDREN
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that it is in the best interests of all children to live in a secure and stable environment. Every effort should be made to provide a family with the supportive services it needs to allow it to stay together and care for the child in a safe, non-abusive, and nurturing environment.
In cases of custodial and non-custodial parents, the Association recognizes the vital role both parents can play in the development of their children. The Association encourages the judicial system to recognize the crucial role both parents can play in that development when legally appropriate. A number of qualitative and quantitative standards, that are both measurable, and without regard to either parent’s gender should determine the placement of children.
If a child's immediate family and/or extended family is unable to care for him or her, the Association believes that the child may need temporary foster care while, at the same time, efforts are made to work with the family toward reunification with the child.
The Association also believes that parents who place children in foster care must be accountable for their efforts to rehabilitate themselves and indicate, through measurable actions, that they are working toward the return of the child to the home.
The Association further believes that, if it becomes clear that a family is not able to make a home for a child and is unable to resume parenting, efforts should be made for the legal release of the child for adoption. (04)
C-4 TRANSPORTATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that free transportation should be provided for all public school students residing beyond a reasonable and safe walking distance from their assigned schools. The Association also believes that all aspects of transporting students require close scrutiny. The Association further believes that overcrowding of buses must be prohibited and that safety requirements for buses and other designated school vehicles must be stringently enforced. Appropriate health and safety training must be provided for all school bus personnel. No professional employee should be required to transport students as a condition of employment. The Association believes that local school districts should provide students with transportation for all school-related activities. (04)
C-5 CHILD ABUSE
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all persons should be free from physical, mental or emotional abuse. The Association urges its locals to cooperate with the Attorney General, the Commission dealing with families, and other community organizations to increase public awareness and understanding of abuse. Locals are strongly encouraged to foster strict compliance with regulations concerning the reporting of suspected child abuse. (04)
C-6 PREVENTION OF CHILD ABDUCTION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all children must be protected from abduction. Programs to prevent abduction must be provided to education employees, students, parent(s)/guardian(s), and the community. The Association urges its locals to work with school districts to design, implement, and periodically review policies and procedures for the prevention of abduction. (04)
C-7 MISSING CHILDREN
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all available means must be utilized to locate missing children. The Association urges its locals to work cooperatively with programs and/or authorities to raise the public's consciousness about the missing children crisis.
The Association also believes that, in an effort to address this issue, voluntary identification procedures (i.e. fingerprinting, DNA swabs, photo identification) of children should be conducted in a non-threatening environment and that completed identification packets should be given to the parent(s)/guardian(s). The Association further believes that its locals should work with authorities in developing legislative support for solving this problem, and in the dissemination of photographs and information about missing children to all school employees. (04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all members of our society have the right to adequate housing and healthcare. The Association urges the enactment of legislation, policies, and programs to provide adequate housing and healthcare for the homeless.
C-9 ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE SCHOOLS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all educational facilities must be smoke-free and safe from all environmental and chemical hazards, including lead from water pipe systems within schools, inadequate ventilation and sick-building syndrome. Appropriate provisions should be made for individuals allergic to perfumes and other aerosols. The Association urges the establishment and vigorous enforcement of stringent standards at least equal to private sector standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure health and safety. These standards and any noted deviations should be posted at the facility. The Association further urges locals to support ordinances and funding to ensure these health and safety standards.
The Association supports ongoing standardized training and certification of education employees working with potentially hazardous school equipment and in hazardous facilities. The Association believes that such training must include the proper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous materials.The Association also believes that school personnel, students, and their families should be notified of potential hazardous and the action plan for correction. The Association urges that when facilities are altered or repaired these activities do not create additional hazards. The Association further believes that affected local districts have a responsibility to post immediate notice of these hazards through the public media. (97, 04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that healthy nutrition is essential to student success. The Association further believes that healthy nutrition must be a part of prenatal care and must continue throughout life. The Association supports programs within the education framework that promote understanding of healthy nutrition. In addition, the Association believes school food service programs must be nutritionally healthy, appealing, affordable and subsidized by state and federal funds. (97, 04)
C-11 INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETICS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that interscholastic programs should be brought under jurisdiction of the Board of Regents. (98)
C-12 PROTECTION OF CONFIDENTIALITY BETWEEN PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that communications between professional educators and students must be legally privileged. It urges the passage of legislation that provides this privilege and protects both educators and students.
C-13 MEDIA, GAMES, PRODUCTS, AND CHILDREN
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes that children are an especially vulnerable and easily exploited audience who must be protected from exposure to violence, prejudice, sexual content, and stereotyping by mass media, the Internet, and products that are accessible to children.
The Association is committed to working cooperatively with media producers, advertisers, and manufacturers in developing products that protect the interests of children. The Association encourages the producers of mass media to select and use age-appropriate subject matter in their products targeted at children. The Association also encourages all radio and television programming executives, when determining the appropriateness of program subject matter and the development of broadcasting schedules, to consider children's ages.
The Association further encourages advertisers and media professionals to use standard grammar and correct spelling and to refrain from the use of stereotypical and/or discriminatory terminology and profanity.The Association encourages the producers of games and toys to make explicit to consumers, prior to purchase, the nature of a product's content through specific labeling. The Association believes that regulations restricting the purchase of games and toys based on age appropriateness be developed and enforced. The Association deplores exposing children as consumer-test groups to violent interactive games and products in order for manufacturers to determine how to increase or refine the violent content for the express purpose of increasing sales.
The Association also believes that, through media literacy education, education employees, parents/guardians, and children must become critical users of mass media, the Internet, and other products accessible to children. The Association encourages its affiliates to establish media study committees to monitor media activities and promote positive educational programming. The Association also encourages its locals to provide support for education employees to assist parents/guardians in the selection of appropriate media, games, and products for their children. (98) (02)
C-14 EXTRACURRICULAR PARTICIPATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island applauds efforts by local communities to emphasize student excellence in the academics. The Association urges local communities to recognize students for academic accomplishments through school letters and other awards. When school systems develop academic standards as a criterion for participation in extra-curricular activities, the Association believes that such restrictions must be uniform for all activities, athletic and non-athletic. The criterion established must be one which students can reasonably achieve, while successfully completing a course of study. (97, 04)
C-15 IMPACT OF HOMELESSNESS AND POVERTY ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that education must be provided for all children and youth, and it believes that poverty negatively impacts children's abilities to learn and deprives them of the opportunity for academic success.
The Association also believes in the right of all children and youth, including those without a permanent legal address, to an education, adequate housing, and healthcare.The Association further believes that school and community groups should work cooperatively to meet the needs of homeless and impoverished children and youth. (98, 04)
C-16 CRISIS INTERVENTION PROGRAMS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that suicide and crisis intervention programs must be developed and implemented. The Association also believes that such programs must have well-detailed and written procedures for each emergency category (such as death by suicide, accidental death, hostile intruders, or natural disasters). The Association further believes that all personnel must be familiar with such procedures in principle and in practice. (00, 04)
C-17 REDUCTION OF GANG-RELATED CRIME
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that families, schools, communities, businesses, and law enforcement agencies have critical roles in reducing gang-related crime. The Association supports collaboration among these groups in an effort to reduce such crime.
The Association also supports educational programs that promote positive self-image and academic success—such as dropout prevention/intervention, before and after-school programs, and job training—particularly for at-risk students in areas where there is a high degree of gang activity.The Association also believes that the business community has an important role in reducing illegal activities by gangs. The Association further supports programs that lead to meaningful job opportunities for youths.
The Association further believes that law enforcement agencies should be active participants in education and employment programs to reduce gang-related crimes.
The Association believes that federal, state and local governments should develop and implement education and youth employment programs that will help reduce gang activity. (00, 04)
D-1 INCENTIVES FOR RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION OF TEACHERS
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports initiatives that establish programs aimed toward the recruitment and professional development of the most promising college students with special emphasis on recruitment of the most promising minority candidates and their retention as professional teachers. The Association urges the establishment of loan-forgiveness programs and direct scholarship aid for this purpose. The Association further encourages its affiliates, in conjunction with local school committees, to develop minority recruitment models that set forth plans to locate, employ, and retain qualified minority candidates. (04)
D-2 STUDENT TEACHERS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that teacher preparation programs should prepare students for the rigors of the teaching profession. To this end, the Association believes that each higher education institutions training teachers should develop its teacher training programs in collaboration with public school teachers. These programs should be reviewed and updated on a continuing basis to reflect innovations in teaching strategies and technologies.
Regular experiences in the classroom under the supervision of a cooperating teacher should begin in the teacher training program. The Association also believes that the cooperating teacher should have a relationship with the Higher Education Institution that transcends the traditional supervising of student teachers. The cooperating teacher should have a voice in determining and reviewing teacher preparation programs, assisting student teacher candidates in receiving classroom experience, and supervising student teachers in the field. (04)
D-3 SCHOOL STAFFING
The National Education Association Rhode Island strongly believes that only personnel certificated by the Rhode Island Department of Education should be employed to provide professional service in Rhode Island elementary and secondary schools and satellite programs. The Association supports rigorous and relevant evaluation in the selection and preparation of teachers. The Association also believes that a broad range of factors rather than a single criterion, such as minimum competency testing, should be used to evaluate a candidate for professional certification, and that the process of selecting candidates is most effective when teachers determine criteria. (02, 04)
D-4 EMERGENCY CERTIFICATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island strongly opposes the granting of emergency/alternative certificates for any reason. The Association is especially concerned by attempts to emphasize experience in specific subject areas in lieu of the educational components of certification. Such attempts constitute a dangerous erosion of the quality of education.
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes the important role of the substitute teacher. It encourages both the education community and the public to recognize the singular and specific function that substitute teachers perform in the maintenance and continuity of daily education. The Association believes that substitute teachers must meet the same standards as any other certificated teacher within the state. It also recognizes that certificated substitute teachers are professional educators and urges state and local affiliates to promote collective bargaining responsibilities and rights for substitute teachers.
The Association condemns the practice of assigning substitute teachers to regular positions for an extended duration of time. Available certificated teachers who are eligible to be placed on contractual status by the school district should fill positions created by an extended absence.The Association condemns the use of certificated teachers to substitute for personnel on extended leave without providing full pay plus basic and fringe benefits for the substituting teacher. (04)
D-6 CERTIFICATION OF COACHES
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes in rigid adherence to certification standards for athletic coaches in public schools. (04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that effective evaluation procedures supported by professional development programs will enable all education employees to keep abreast of developments in their areas of specialization. Such procedures, with sufficient resources, can help ensure job competency, identify deficiencies in performance, and provide options such as counseling, training programs, remediation plans, and opportunities to observe peers.
If following such an evaluation and after being given sufficient time, training, and opportunity for improvement, a person is then formally re-evaluated and incompetence can be documented, dismissal proceedings with guaranteed due process may be instituted. Such proceedings must be implemented by administrators/evaluators who are properly trained and held accountable for appropriate and fair evaluation systems.The Association also believes that the use of student achievement measures (e.g., grades, standardized test scores, etc.) as criteria in the evaluation process is inappropriate.
The Association further believes the evaluation procedure should be subject to the local collective bargaining agreement. Such procedures should be cooperatively developed and maintained in conjunction with representatives selected by the local association and should include the following:
- Clear performance expectations that are specific to the job description.
- Regular observation of job performance with advance notice and discussion of evaluation visits and a timely consultation after each visit.
- A written evaluation report to be provided to the person being evaluated.
- Opportunity for a written response prior to the placement of the evaluation in the personnel file.
- An employee improvement plan that will not interfere with any earned pay increase or longevity credit.
- A provision for an alternative evaluator and/or an opportunity for an alternative evaluation report to ensure a fair and unbiased evaluation of the education employee.
- An unbiased appeals process with an evidentiary hearing under oath.
The Association further believes that procedures for evaluation of administrators should include evaluations by education employees who are directly supervised by them.
By participating in an evaluation process, an education employee shall not waive his or right to due process in any subsequent contractual or legal proceeding. (02, 04, 06)
D-8 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that professional development is necessary throughout the career of the education employee. Professional development may include, but not be limited to the following: Continuing education courses, state and/or regionally developed professional development resource center programs, and local professional development and grant programs.
The Association also believes that such programs must provide equal opportunities for education employees to gain the knowledge and skills they determine are important to their position, to the improvement of school programs and to their performance as members of their profession. Appropriate technology must be available to all education employees to ensure access to current information and ideas.The Association further believes that contractual responsibilities for the design and implementation of professional development programs should be included in collective bargaining agreements. (95, 02, 04)
D-9 MENTOR PROGRAMS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that mentor programs are a means of enhancing the professional expertise of employees and retaining quality educators. The Association also believes that the planning, implementation and evaluation of such programs must be negotiated or cooperatively developed and maintained by the school district and the local affiliate.
The Association further believes that the duties and responsibilities of all parties must be clearly defined and uniformly administered. Mentors must be selected through a defined process with articulated criteria, be properly trained and compensated, and be provided with adequate time to fulfill their responsibilities. The state or local authority has the obligation to provide hold-harmless protection.The Association further believes that any documentation that results from the mentoring process must be confidential and the sole property of the person mentored and must not be included in the participant's personnel file. The Association also believes that any verbal conversations that result from the mentoring process must also remain confidential. (98, 04)
D-10 PEER ASSISTANCE AND REVIEW PROGRAMS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that high standards within the teaching profession and continuous improvement in professional practices are cornerstones of the profession. Some local associations may conclude that, under certain circumstances, peer assistance or a peer assistance and review program is an appropriate mechanism for achieving these objectives.
The primary purpose of any such program should be to provide "assistance"—to improve professional practice, retain promising teachers, and build professional knowledge to improve student success.A local association may, at its discretion, also decide to include a "review" component in the program —involving the evaluation of performance. If a local association takes either position, the program should
- Be developed through collective bargaining or through a joint association/school district agreement.
- Be governed by a joint board composed of both representatives appointed by the school district and at least an equal number of representatives appointed by the local association.
- Routinely accept and act upon recommendations forwarded by the joint governing body, but acknowledge that the school district makes the final decision to retain or seek non-renewal/termination.
- Ensure that only teachers who are determined by their peers to be highly skilled practitioners are selected for the role of consulting teacher; that the consulting teachers' area of expertise are the same as or closely related to that of the participating teacher; and that the consulting teachers are chosen by the program's governing body with the approval of the participating teacher involved.
- Seek consulting teachers who reflect the diverse population of the teaching staff.
- Provide that consulting teachers are properly compensated and provided adequate time to fulfill their responsibilities.
- Provide that consulting teachers receive extensive and ongoing training in mentoring/coaching skills, district initiatives and resources, and current educational/instructional methods.
- Establish guidelines for the referral of teachers as well as safeguards to prevent unwarranted referrals.
- Establish and convey to all consulting and participating teachers clear rules on allowable uses of documents, products, and communications arising from the program.
- Require extensive documentation based on ongoing assessments of each participant.
- Require that rigorous and extensive assistance be provided over an appropriate period of time to help the participating teacher attain the requisite standard of proficiency before any effort to counsel the participating teacher out of the profession is made or a recommendation to initiate non-renewal or termination proceedings is issued.
- Ensure due process protection and duty of fair representation procedures.
- Guarantee that participating teachers, consulting teachers, and teachers who sit on governing bodies do not lose their Association membership or bargaining unit status by virtue of their participation in the program. (98, 02, 04)
D-11 PROMOTE THE RETENTION OF EXPERIENCED EDUCATORS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that experienced educators are valuable resources in the promotion of educational excellence.
The Association also believes that experienced members should be encouraged to remain in, or return to, the education profession. This encouragement should be accomplished through strategies, consistent with NEA policy, including but not limited to enhanced salaries and benefits, a supportive and respectful work environment, a reasonable workload, and retirement enhancements that reward extended years of service. These strategies can be achieved through bargaining, legislation, or other means. (02, 04)
E-1 ACADEMIC FREEDOM
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that academic and professional freedom is essential to the teaching profession. Academic freedom is the right of the learner and the teacher to freely explore, present, and discuss divergent points of view and the results of research in the quest for knowledge and truth. Professional freedom includes the teacher's right and responsibility to evaluate, to criticize, and to advocate a personal point of view concerning the policies and programs of the schools to the school administration and the community as a whole.
Controversial issues should be a part of instructional programs when judgment of the professional staff deems the issues appropriate to the curriculum and to the maturity level of the student. The teacher also has the right and responsibility to assist colleagues when their academic or professional freedom is violated. Because these freedoms are subject to challenge from many sources, local associations are urged to incorporate guarantees of academic and professional freedom in collective bargaining agreements.
E-2 SELECTION OF MATERIALS AND TEACHING TECHNIQUES
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that decisions of which school learning experiences and teaching techniques will develop a student's talents are best made by a teacher who knows the learner. Teaching quality depends on freedom to make such decisions. Teachers and librarians/media specialists must have the right to select instructional/library materials without censorship or legislative interference. The Association urges its affiliates to negotiate with school committees an orderly and objective procedure for handling challenges to instructional materials.
E-3 SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS IN THE EDUCATION PROCESS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all education employees are essential to the learning environment. The Association recognizes that educational support professionals promote positive role models that enhance the education process.
The National Education Association Rhode Island urges local school systems to provide classroom teachers with support staff to free the teacher from non-teaching duties. The Association also urges its local associations and local school districts to become involved in the selection, orientation and training of educational support professionals.The Association opposes efforts by school committees to use the employment of educational support professionals as an excuse to increase class size and urges local associations to resist such efforts.
The Association insists that educational support professionals have written job descriptions that define their duties and that these employees are used only for assistance to classroom teachers. (96, 02, 04)
E-4 NON-INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT STAFF
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that greater emphasis must be placed upon securing and maintaining the most capable non-instructional support staff. The Association recognizes that the non-instructional staff shares the same community of interest with the professional staff. The Association urges that salaries and benefits for the non-instructional staff be competitive with other unionized employees. (04)
E-5 IMPACT OF FEDERAL AND STATE LEGISLATIVE MANDATES
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that federal and state mandates regarding school programs should be broad, general guidelines, must be fully funded, and must not be based on student achievement. Mandated programs and requirements should be established or eliminated only in conjunction with the Association. Mandates should be assessed by stakeholders, including the Association with particular attention to the impact on students, education employees, school programs, and finances. (07)
E-6 TIME TO TEACH
The National Education Association believes that "time to teach’’ refers not only to those hours during which a teacher is actually teaching but also applies to those conditions that contribute to the student-teacher relationship. These include a reasonable, carefully defined work load, a duty-free lunch period, adequate, well-equipped work space, access to telephones, access to technology, freedom from interruptions during instructional time, sufficient unencumbered planning time, time to evaluate and record student progress, and elimination of non-instructional duties.
The Association also believes that, at all levels and in all disciplines, additional common planning time should be provided during the school day for teachers to meet for such purposes as, but not limited to, planning interdisciplinary activities/units, team planning time, and coordinating with special education and/or support professionals as needed. The Association further believes that in order for the classroom teacher to spend adequate time on instructional duties, the paperwork burden on the teacher must be reduced and held to an absolute minimum. The Association believes that teachers need the freedom and flexibility to schedule time and design programs to meet the needs of students. (11)
F-1 WOMEN AND MEMBERS OF MINORITY GROUPS IN EDUCATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all persons should be given equal opportunity for employment, promotion, compensation and leadership. The Association urges its local associations to recommend and actively encourage women and minorities to seek administrative positions. To this end, the state and local association should encourage employers to adopt and implement affirmative action programs. (04)
F-2 AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
The National Education Association Rhode Island adopts the philosophy and goals of affirmative action. The Association acknowledges the need for involving women and minorities in all areas of leadership within its own organization, as officers, committee leaders, committee members, and staff persons. The Association urges that this goal be seriously pursued in its member locals. (04)
F-3 STATE EMPLOYEE MERIT SYSTEM
The National Education Association Rhode Island is committed to a revision of the State Employee Merit System and believes that salaries of State Employee members should compare favorably with income in other State Classifications of comparable preparation and responsibility. Therefore, the Association must seek a comprehensive review and reform of the State Classification and Pay Plans, as well as promotional procedures. (04)
F-4 INTEGRITY OF THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING PROCESS
The National Education Association Rhode Island reaffirms its continuous support of the collective bargaining process establishing wages, hours, and conditions of employment and strongly condemns governing bodies which consciously undermine that process.
The Association further condemns any attempts by the State Legislature to decrease the scope of or to eliminate collective bargaining for all public employees. (09)
F-5 RESOLUTION OF CONTRACT IMPASSE
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that certain timely procedures should be used to resolve contract impasse. These procedures may include mediation, fact-finding, binding arbitration, political action and sanctions. The Association also believes that until a subsequent agreement is reached members shall continue to work under the terms of the existing contract.
Therefore, the Association shall seek to obtain equitable legislation for all members, including those not covered by the Michaelson Act, which will provide for binding arbitration and contract continuation in the absence of an agreement. The Association believes that until such legislation is achieved, members have the right to strike. (04, 11)
F-6 WAGE AND PRICE CONTROLS
The National Education Association Rhode Island is opposed to the imposition of wage controls, voluntary or mandatory, which place public employees in an economic position inferior to other sectors of the economy.
F-7 EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING PROGRAMS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the public schools should be involved as an equal partner with government, labor, business and community-based groups in youth and adult employment and training programs. The Association also believes that these programs should supplement, and not supplant the vocational programs provided in the public schools. The participation of public school teachers in employment and training programs should be assured under the following conditions:
- Teachers and local education association should have a role in the development of employment and training programs and should have the right to approve programs before implementation.
- Only certificated educators are used to staff the educational and support components of employment and training programs.
- Employment of teachers should be within the framework of the local collective bargaining agreement. Salaries should not be less than the teacher’s normal pro rata per diem rate of pay.
- Funds for the educational components of employment and training programs should be channeled through and controlled by local school systems.
- Funds for youth and adult training programs should be designated for training of teachers, counselors, administrators, and school board members in program objectives and procedures.
- The use of funds and the duration of programs should be flexible in order to accommodate the differing learning needs of students.
- The amount of funding should be predictable in order to facilitate year-to-year planning.
- Employment and training programs should provide ongoing counselor, placement and other support services and should be provided by certificated personnel.
- Employment and training programs should provide opportunities for both men and women in non-traditional occupations.
- Existing educational vocational facilities should be used in employment and training programs. (04)
F-8 MANDATED RETRAINING
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that when the state or local district requires an employee to be retrained, it is the responsibility of the employers to provide release time for training, to compensate the employee, and to provide for all costs associated with retraining. (04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that salaries of members should compare favorably with income in other professions and occupations of comparable preparation and responsibilities. Continued efforts should be made by local associations in cooperation with the National Education Association Rhode Island/National Education Association through collective bargaining to obtain realistic salary scales.
The Association also believes that instructional performance pay schedules, such as merit pay, are inappropriate because of the complexity of the teaching-learning process.
F-10 NEGOTIATING RIGHTS FOR TEACHERS WHO SUPERVISE EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes that extra-curricular activities are a vital part of the education of children and that the salary and conditions under which teachers who supervise these activities work should be set by collective bargaining. The Association urges that the Michaelson Act be amended to specifically include teachers who supervise extra- curricular activities. The Association supports the position that participation in Social Security benefits is guaranteed to such persons through continuing deductions based on their extra-curricular pay. (04)
F-11 PARENTAL RIGHTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island recognizes that both parents have equal responsibility in the rearing of their offspring. Therefore, it supports the position that parental rights and benefits must be granted without discrimination to members. (94)
F-12 REDUCTION IN FORCE
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that one of its basic responsibilities is to protect job security and it urges its affiliates to negotiate in master contracts criteria to be utilized should reduction in force (RIF) occur. Criteria should include seniority, objectivity and non-discrimination. (04)
The Association condemns the improper use of RIF to eliminate complete areas from comprehensive educational and pupil personnel programs.It must be recognized that the reduction of education support professionals and/or the reduction of specific staff and the attrition of staffs through resignations or retirements are both forms of reduction in force. (96, 04)
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports the concept of voluntary job-sharing as a means of providing flexible employment opportunity to help meet the varying needs of members. The Association believes there must be fair and equitable distribution of work between job-sharers in terms of the total number of hours of work and the workload. The Association further asserts that job-sharing working conditions must be subject to collective bargaining and those they require the following minimum conditions for successful implementation:
- Prorated application of the salary schedule with full recognition of years of experience;
- An equitable share of all fringe benefits;
- The right to revert to full-time status. (04)
F-14 RELEASED TIME FOR LOCAL PRESIDENTS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the role of the local president requires time during the regular workday. The Association urges locals to negotiate provisions in their contracts that would free local presidents during the workday on a regular basis to participate in, and perform, association activities. (04)
F-15 PROTECTION OF PERSONNEL
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that guidelines for action leading to prevention of verbal abuse or harassment of educators, other school personnel, and where appropriate municipal and state employees by any individuals must be developed and enforced. Members must take the responsibility to call attention to such cases so that appropriate action may be taken. The Association also believes that when members are the victims of physical attack, verbal abuse, harassment, or theft, they should receive the full support of their employer in pursuing legal and other remedies. (98, 04)
F-16 MANDATORY MEDICAL TESTING
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that mandatory drug, alcohol and HIV/AIDS testing of employees and job applicants is an unwarranted and unconstitutional invasion of privacy. (04)
F-17 EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports the development employee assistance programs as a voluntary resource that would assist employees who are experiencing significant professional or personal problems by providing confidential, professional counseling leading to improved health and job effectiveness. (94)
F-18 ALLEGATIONS AGAINST EDUCATION EMPLOYEES
The National Education Association Rhode Island urges the enactment of state legislation, local ordinances, and school board policy that would protect education employees from allegations of child abuse made in bad faith. Any such allegation should be investigated and resolved immediately. The name of the employee should not be publicly revealed until and unless there is a finding of guilty. Counseling from an outside community agency should be provided for any education employee accused of child abuse, with emphasis upon the fact that such referral does not presume innocence or guilt. Additional counseling should be available for the innocent employee after the case is decided.
The Association also urges the enactment of federal, state and local legislation that would assure due process for education employees accused of child abuse.
F-19 BILL OF RIGHTS FOR EDUCATIONAL EMPLOYEES
The National Education Association Rhode Island recommends that the Board of Regents adopt and promulgate the National Education Association Bill of Rights for Educational Employees. (96)
The National Education Association Rhode Island shall provide leadership in retirement issues and believes that state and local retirement systems and programs should include the following:
- Autonomous boards of trustees, the majority of which are elected by and from the membership.
- Actuarial and investment policies that produce sound financing.
- Annual independent review and audit.
- Provisions for employee contributions to be a percentage of total compensation, not to exceed the amount contributed by employers. The employer may pay part or all of the employee contribution with no unilateral changes in percent compensation of employees.
- Removal of the Social Security offset penalties known as the Windfall Elimination Provision/Government Pension Offset (WEP/GPO).
- Immediate and full vesting after not more than five years of service.
- Provisions permitting the purchase of credit earned while a member of another retirement system.
- Provisions permitting the purchase of credit for sabbatical leaves, maternity/paternity/adoption leaves and any other approved leaves of absences.
- No increase in pension contribution, unless there is a benefit increase.
- A provision that all changes to the retirement system and programs must be agreed upon by all bargaining agents.
- Disability retirement for a service connected disability available to school employees from the first day of employment. Non-service-connected disability retirement shall be available after five (5) years of service. The benefit formula for disability retirement should yield benefits comparable to those of normal retirement.
- No reduction in automatic cost-of-living increases.
- A program to provide for transfer of service and pension benefits from state to state in order to reduce one of the major barriers to interstate mobility.
- Non-discrimination on the basis of [gender] sexual orientation/gender identification or marital status.
- All compensation, including extra duty pay, should be included when computing retirement benefits.
- Pre-retirement counseling.
- School employees' contributions and benefits that are not subject to federal income taxation.
- Fully paid comprehensive health insurance.
- An annual financial statement distributed to all members.
- Tax sheltered annuity and deferred compensation plans with a broad choice of programs available to all members. These plans should have actuarial tables that do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation/gender identification or national origin. (99, 04)
F-21 SURVIVORS' BENEFITS
The National Education Association Rhode Island calls for a continuing updating of survivors' benefits and an end to all discriminatory practices contained in the present eligibility requirements for said benefits.
F-22 ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE WORKPLACE
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all facilities must be smoke-free and safe from all environmental and chemical hazards, including lead from water pipe systems, inadequate ventilation and sick-building syndrome. Appropriate provisions should be made for individuals allergic to perfumes and other aerosols. The Association urges the establishment and vigorous enforcement of stringent standards at least equal to private sector standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure health and safety. These standards and any noted deviations should be posted at the facility. The Association also urges local affiliates to support ordinances and funding to ensure these health and safety standards. (04)
G-1 STATE PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS BOARDS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the profession must govern itself. The Association also believes that the State of Rhode Island should have a professional standards board, composed of a majority of practicing public school teachers.
Professional standards boards should have exclusive authority to license and to determine criteria for how a national certificate will be recognized for professional educators.Further, these boards should have the exclusive authority to establish the standards regarding licensure, including procedures for suspension and revocation. (98)
G-2 NATIONAL CERTIFICATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports voluntary professional national certification by which the profession grants recognition to an individual who has met qualifications specified by the profession. The Association recognizes that the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), which is composed of a majority of practicing public school teachers, fills this function.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards establishes appropriate assessment procedures by which individuals demonstrate exemplary practice in pedagogy and in subject matter areas, issues certificates to all individuals who meet NBPTS-established standards and maintains a roster of those who have been certificated.The Association supports the periodic evaluation of such certification procedures to ascertain whether cultural, economic, gender, racial, or age bias is perpetuated by the requirements for certification. (98, 04)
H-1 THE MEMBER IN POLITICS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that every member has the right and obligation to be an informed and politically active citizen. The Association supports local affiliates in bringing action against any employer that abrogates the political rights of members. Provisions should be made to enable members to serve in public office without prejudice and without curtailment of annual increments, tenure, retirement, or seniority rights.
The Association strongly endorses the goals of the National Education Association Rhode Island-Political Action Committee for Education (NEARI-PACE) and the National Education Association-Fund for Children and Public Education (NEA-FCPE) and urges all members to join and support local, state, and national political action committees in their endeavors to be major forces in the political arena. (04)
H-2 POLITICAL ACTION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that its members must work through the political process in order to establish education as the top priority of our society, since elected officials or their appointees make major decisions affecting schools and institutions of higher education. The Association also believes that it is the responsibility of its members to involve themselves in the selection, election and reelection of qualified committed candidates who support goals that will provide quality education.
Therefore, the Association commits itself to full support of NEARI-PACE so that political action funds can be used to maximum efficiency for those activities, which cannot by law be supported by NEARI membership dues. The State Association urges its local affiliates to develop and implement local political action activities. (94, 04)
H-3 VOTER INITIATIVE
The National Education Association Rhode Island is firmly committed to representative democracy. The Association, therefore, opposes voter initiative procedures that diminish the responsibilities of legislators to their constituents. (94, 04)
H-4 HISTORIC PRESERVATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island encourages the preservation of historically significant lands and structures for the purposes of preserving our nation’s heritage and maintaining important educational resources for future generations.
H-5 ENERGY PROGRAM
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that a national energy policy should reflect the efficient use of energy from all sources, provide research to develop new sources of energy, stress rapid development of renewable energy sources, and promote conservation.
The Association supports ensuring the energy-efficient operation of public schools and encourages the use of new energy sources and energy-efficient design in school renovation and construction. The Association also supports efforts that develop energy conservation awareness and school building energy audit programs. The Association further supports programs that investigate energy efficiency recommendations, research, and public health and safety programs for all educational levels in the schools. (98, 04)
I-1 RADIATION AND CHEMICAL POLLUTION
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes in the establishment and vigorous enforcement of stringent standards and safeguards against radiation and chemical pollution. All such standards must include provisions for strict monitoring in the proximity of school facilities and workplaces. The Association also believes in the development and implementation of new technologies that provide for the safe transport and recycling/disposal of all wastes. The Association further believes that the people of our state should make the final determination as to whether or not toxic and/or nuclear waste processing sites or the transportation of nuclear waste shall be allowed within their state boundaries.
The Association supports programs that educate the public to the dangers and benefits of nuclear power, recycling of nuclear wastes, problems of nuclear waste disposal, and the health risks associated with waste incineration. The Association believes that education employees must be involved in the development and dissemination of emergency plans in the case of accidents that could potentially result in environmental and/or health hazards. (04)
I-2 NUCLEAR FREEZE
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that a nuclear war is not survivable. The Association also believes that all levels of government should work towards the goal of establishing a verifiable international freeze on development, testing, production, upgrading, emplacement, sale, distribution, and deployment of nuclear weapons, materials, and all systems designed to deliver nuclear weapons. The Association supports the development of treaties for the cessation of all nuclear weapons testing and for the elimination of the world's nuclear weapons arsenals, provided that they contain adequate verification and enforcement provisions. (04)
I-3 WEAPON FREE SCHOOLS AND WORKPLACES AND THE REGULATION OF DEADLY WEAPONS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that all students and employees must be allowed to learn and work in an environment free of unauthorized guns and other deadly weapons. Severe penalties should be enacted and strenuously enforced for criminal actions involving guns and other deadly weapons, especially in school settings, and for those who profit from the illegal sale, importation and distribution of these weapons.
The Association also believes that strict prescriptive regulations are necessary for the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale and resale of handguns, ammunition and magazines that hold ammunition. The possession by the private sector of automatic weapons and military-style semiautomatic assault weapons should be illegal, except for historical and collection purposes which must be strictly regulated. A mandatory waiting period for a background check should occur prior the sale of all firearms.The Association further believes that gun owners should participate in programs that stress responsible ownership, including safe use and storage of guns. (98, 04)
I-4 SECTARIAN PRACTICES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that the constitutional provisions on the establishment of and the free exercise of religion in the First Amendment require that there be no sectarian practices in the public schools. The Association urges its affiliates to oppose sectarian practices in public schools.
I-5 SILENT MINUTES
While silent minutes are of themselves no threat to personal liberties, the National Education Association Rhode Island opposes silent minutes when they are used as a vehicle to promote prayer in public schools. (04)
I-6 FREEDOM OF CREATIVE EXPRESSION
The National Education Association Rhode Island supports freedom of expression in the creative arts and therefore deplores any efforts by government to suppress, directly or indirectly, such expression. The Association also supports the freedom of publicly funded agencies to exercise judgment in the awarding of grants to individuals and organizations. (04)
I-7 HATE-MOTIVATED VIOLENCE
The National Education Association Rhode Island deplores incidents of hate-motivated physical and verbal attacks against individuals or groups because of their race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation/gender identification, age, disability, marital status, or economic condition. The Association urges its locals in conjunction with community groups, to create an awareness of hate-motivated, violent activities and to develop programs to oppose them. The Association supports efforts to bring about clear and consistent law enforcement to protect the civil and human rights of the victims of hate-motivated, violent actions.
I-8 SEXUAL HARASSMENT
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination or abuse.
The Association also believes that all members and students should be protected from sexual harassment. The Association urges:
- The establishment of strong policies defining and prohibiting sexual harassment.
- The development of education programs designed to help people recognize, understand, prevent combat, and eliminate sexual harassment.
- The development and publication of a grievance procedure that encourages the reporting of incidents of sexual harassment, resolves complaints promptly, and protects the rights of all parties. (00, 04)
I-9 ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island is committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation/gender identification and disability.
The Association condemns any code or system of discrimination and exploitation and believes that sanctions are both justified and necessary against governments, organizations, businesses, and/or groups that utilize or support discriminatory practices.
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes the school environment must be free from all forms of bullying. Bullying is the systematic and chronic infliction of physical hurt and/or psychological distress on one or more individuals. The Association recognizes that bullying in schools is not limited to students, but can include members of the entire school community.
The Association encourages its locals to work with school districts to develop comprehensive school wide programs to address bullying, as is now mandated by Rhode Island state law. Such programs should:
- Establish strong policies prohibiting bullying that include the definition, consequences, and procedures for reporting and appeals.
- Develop and implement educational programs designed to help students recognize, understand, prevent, and eliminate bullying.
- Provide professional development and resources for all school employees in bullying prevention and intervention.
- Be periodically reviewed, revised and updated. (04)
J-1 STATEWIDE STRIKE
In the event that a School Committee uses scabs to open its school system where there is a school strike, the President of the National Education Association Rhode Island/NEA will call a statewide strike.
J-2 NEARI PICKET LINES
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that its members must honor all authorized member picket lines. The National Education Association Rhode Island also believes it must absolutely oppose any member crossing an authorized picket line to take a position in a system that is on strike. The Association further believes that it must seek to make arrangements with the directors of teacher education and student employment programs to discourage and to deter student teachers or workers from crossing authorized and established picket lines. The Association believes it must take appropriate action against any member who crosses an authorized picket line. (04)
J-3 IDENTIFICATION WITH NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
The National Education Association Rhode Island urges locals to identify with the national organization and to adopt name changes indicative of that identity, namely, National Education Association preceding the local association's name.
J-4 LOCAL LEADERSHIP
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that its strength is derived from the support and actions of its locals. Since the local's support for the state activities is for the most part predicated on the local leadership, especially the president, the Association urges locals to elect officers who are supportive of and participate in the Association activities. To maintain quality officers, the Association urges locals to pay them remunerations commensurate with the duties and responsibilities of their positions and to encourage officers to serve for multiple year terms. (04)
J-5 COOPERATION WITH PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that public employee unions should meet, discuss, and work together toward the solution of common problems.
J-6 UNION SOLIDARITY
The National Education Association Rhode Island believes that its members should promote union solidarity and strength by honoring legitimately established picket lines. (04)