We understand that you may have some questions about the board's decision to end Vermont-NEA's annual educators' convention. We know that the end of a tradition that dates back before the Civil War can be difficult for some. Here are some frequently asked questions. If you need more information, feel free to contact Vermont-NEA Communications Director Darren Allen.
Why did the board vote to end Convention?
The board, after more than a year of study, analysis and discussion, decided that the annual convention was no longer the most effective way to reach members and provide them with their professional development needs. Attendance – at its peak in the thousands – had dropped precipitously since 2006. It was clear to the board that members no longer needed to travel to a central location for their professional development needs, and that activities such as browsing textbooks and other materials is a process done largely on the Internet.
Will there be a final convention this year?
No. The board decided that after the most recent edition, holding one last convention didn’t make sense financially or practically.
What will happen to the days?
We understand that some members will be concerned about the loss of “Vermont-NEA Days” on the regular October calendar. But the reality is that those days are already not available in some school districts; that in other districts, those days are student days; and in others, they are designated for in-service days. As always, the length of the school year is a local discussion between the Association and local school boards. We encourage you to talk with your local association and your local school boards about the fate of those days. Remember, most of you are not paid for those days if you already have them off.
Convention was one of the few statewide meetings of the Association. What will replace it?
Nothing is contemplated to specifically replace the Convention. The Association’s other statewide gathering, our annual Representative Assembly, is unaffected by this decision. Additionally, the Association is still holding an annual New Teachers’ Conference and an ESP Conference this year.
How did finances play into the board’s decision?
The discussion about the viability of convention touched many aspects of the annual event. A committee of board members explored the history of convention, recent trends in attendance, number of vendors and the ability of convention to further the Association’s goals. The committee, of course, weighed finances in its decision, but its cost was not the main motivator behind the decision to end the event. However, the cost of convention is not insignificant. The most recent iteration cost more than $23,000, or, put another way, more than $2 in dues for every member.
Will this decision be revisited?
At this time, the board does not contemplate reconsidering the decision.
Is Vermont alone among NEA affiliates to end its annual convention?
Not by a long shot. At least a dozen states no longer host an annual convention, and attendance in another dozen more are declining.