NEA Director John Stocks visits Montana reservation schools

<p>May 2012 -</p> <p>&nbsp; <table border="1" cellspacing="3" cellpadding="3" width="300" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td><img alt="" src="/Uploads/images/News/ceciljohn2.jpg" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>From left:&nbsp;Cecil B. Crawford, MEA-MFT's director at large, and NEA Exec. Director John Stocks. Stocks is wearing an NEA logo that Crawford had beaded for him.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" width="300" height="200" src="/Uploads/images/News/gradmatters.jpg" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Denise Juneau stands with St. Ignatius students who serve on her student advisory council, in front of a banner for Juneau's Graduation Matters project.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td>&nbsp;<img alt="" src="/Uploads/images/News/pablo.jpg" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>&nbsp;Pablo Elementary students.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" width="300" height="200" src="/Uploads/files/browning.jpg" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Browning high school students dissect a stingray.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><img alt="" width="300" height="200" src="/Uploads/images/News/tonia.jpg" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p>Heart Butte teacher Toni Ackerman meets John Stocks. At left is MEA-MFT's Jerry Rukavina.</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </p> <p>MEA-MFT members working in Montana&rsquo;s Indian reservation schools do heroic work for children. They do it in the face of overwhelming poverty, isolation, and harsh conditions most Americans can&rsquo;t even imagine &ndash; including the politicians in Washington, DC who make policy decisions about education.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>John Stocks, executive director of the National Education Association, wanted to experience for himself the challenges educat</p> <p>ors and students face in reservation schools. He came to Montana this May to visit schools on the Flathead and Blackfeet reservations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>[See more photos at <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mea-mfthq/sets/72157629939481318/">our Flick site</a>]</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Stocks had the best tour guide possible </strong>-- Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, who grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation. Juneau was greeted with big hugs and warm smiles throughout the trip, especially in Browning, her home town.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver and Executive Director Erik Burke joined the tour as well, along with several MEA-MFT staff members; NEA&rsquo;s Cristina Uribe; and others.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In two whirlwind days, the crew drove nearly 500 miles: from Missoula north through the Flathead Reservation, east along the southern edge of Glacier National Park to the Blackfeet Reservation, and ending in Great Falls. They visited schools in St. Ignatius, Pablo, Salish Kootenai College, Browning, and Heart Butte.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All along the way, &ldquo;we saw heroic educators who are doing tremendous work under really difficult circumstances, with incredible perseverance and resilience,&rdquo; Stocks said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Montana is the second stop</strong> on Stocks&rsquo;s tour of some of the nation&rsquo;s most difficult school environments. &ldquo;I wanted to understand in a more personal way what children of color are experiencing in their education,&rdquo; he explained. Earlier this year, he visited border town schools in Texas, where the U.S.-Mexico border fence often doubles as the school playground fence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Montana, &ldquo;John was very impressed with the enormous challenges Montana&rsquo;s reservation schools face and the incredible work our members are doing to help their students succeed,&rdquo; said Feaver.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Every step on the way, we witnessed first-hand the folly of No Child Left Behind in all its parts. We also observed incredible successes that occur every day because of MEA-MFT members and other caring adults who make a difference, despite the overwhelming obstacles they must confront.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>During the long drives</strong>, Denise Juneau shared many stories about her own history growing up as a Native American in Montana, her family, and her Blackfeet Reservation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tour crew met with MEA-MFT member-leaders at breakfast and lunch meetings along the route. In the evenings, Stocks spoke to MEA-MFT members and others gathered in Kalispell and Great Falls to help raise funds for Juneau&rsquo;s re-election campaign.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>An inch from Wisconsin:&nbsp;</strong>&ldquo;John pointed out that Montana is just an inch away from being Wisconsin, where the attacks on collective bargaining rights began,&rdquo; Feaver said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stocks speaks with the authority on the Wisconsin issue: He worked many years for the Wisconsin affiliate of NEA and still lives in Wisconsin &ndash; commuting home every week from NEA headquarters in Washington, DC.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;He knows how tenuous the situation is, how threatened the rights of working people are,&rdquo; Feaver said. &ldquo;Politics in this country are out of control. The only ones who can get things back on track are people like us.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Stocks summed up his message to MEA-MFT members</strong> at the fundraiser in Great Falls: &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t emphasize enough how important it is to elect Denise Juneau,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s one of the few leaders who challenges some of the idiocy and crazy ideas coming from the so-called &lsquo;education reform&rsquo; movement, such as the testing mania and tying teacher salaries to test scores. Denise has taken on some big players on some of these issues,&rdquo; he said, referring to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Do everything you can to elect Denise Juneau and Steve Bullock as governor,&rdquo; he urged.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re very grateful to John Stocks for spending this time in Montana, for providing inspiration and new energy to MEA-MFT members and guests,&rdquo; said Feaver. &ldquo;This is exactly the sort of thing our national leaders should be doing.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>[Watch this space for more stories about the John Stocks-Denise Juneau tour. See more photos at <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mea-mfthq/sets/72157629939481318/">our Flick site</a>]<br /> &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

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