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ARA, here I come

May 15, 2018 Greg Jeffery, ATA President

This... from ATA President, Greg Jeffrey

This issue of the ATA News comes out right before ARA, but if you don’t receive it until afterward, it’s OK. The first question has to be, “What’s ARA?” The acronym stands for Annual Representative Assembly. If we dissect this, it is possible to determine what the event is. Annual means every year. Representative means delegates are elected to represent their local members, and Assembly says that all will get together in the same place at the same time. This is what it is but, more clearly, ARA is the annual general meeting of our Association.

This will be my 29th consecutive ARA, and I can’t imagine not being in the room.

While many of you are planting flowers and vegetables, about 450 teachers representing 55 locals will gather in Calgary over the May long weekend to debate policy, decide on the budget and set future directions for the ATA. While this may not seem to be the way to spend a long weekend for many of you, for some of us it’s a highlight of the school year.

This will be my 29th consecutive ARA, and I can’t imagine not being in the room. It’s where I learned parliamentary procedure. While I was absorbing those lessons, I witnessed democracy in action. Many times I’ve seen debates go back and forth and end with a final vote that was not what I had initially expected.

Because ARA is so democratic, it is often messy. My local always ran a loonie pool on when the budget debate would conclude. This takes place on Sunday evening, and at my first ARA, I confidently chose 8:27 p.m. as the winning time. Rookie mistake. When the gavel came down at 1:23 a.m., I was tired but very impressed. That same level of attention has gone into budget and policy debates every year since. Decisions at ARA are not made lightly.

While this annual ritual might not be for you, know that there are some of us who live for this event and that our Association is very well governed. My garden always waits for another week and I wouldn’t have it any other way! ❚

I welcome your comments — contact me at

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