Editor's Note: MSTA's Southeast Region Field Coordinator, Renee Bates, explains why open hearings are an important part of MSTA and what our members can expect from the event.
Fall in Missouri brings a new year for educators and new concerns about education. The Missouri State Teachers Association provides an opportunity through our open hearings for our members to voice their concerns and be actively engaged in the direction education takes in the state. Open hearings are held in each region of the state (find yours here) and are an assembly of association members who have the opportunity to shape the future of education for our students and fellow Missouri teachers. These events, members have the opportunity to review the position MSTA has on various educational issues and topics (called resolutions, see the 2011 resolutions here) before they are presented on the floor and voted on by the membership at the annual MSTA state convention. At open hearings, members are able to debate and discuss resolutions. Not only are teacher and employee issues explored, but members can also present and discuss student issues, such as the length of school lunches. This is the best proactive, grassroots activity educators could ask for and members need to take advantage of the opportunity to have their voices heard.
Typically, an open hearing will begin with an introduction of the MSTA state officers and candidates who are running for MSTA state office. Members will vote on these candidates at the state convention. State officers are the teacher leaders and MSTA members who volunteer their time to promote MSTA and be the voice of our teachers through the association. Candidates give a short speech about why they are the best person for the position.
Following these speeches is what MSTA members affectionately called the “Bingo Call.” MSTA’s resolutions are in letter order and the Resolutions Committee member from the region hosting the open hearing reads each section of the resolution, so if someone would like to comment on or ask a question about a resolution they are able to at that time. Since they are in letter order, it sounds like a Bingo game.
From the open hearings, the association is able to gather the opinions of the members to help to set the association’s legislative agenda. The opinions of the members are very important to the grassroots idea of the association. Your ideas and opinions are what drives MSTA to help the students and serve the teachers of Missouri. It is important to play a part in the open hearing process, so teachers can continue to provide the best education possible to Missouri students and give MSTA a platform that truly reflects the voice of Missouri teachers.