Cranston, R.I. (July 25, 2022) – The National Education Association Rhode Island Political Action Committee for Education (NEARI-PACE) met Saturday and voted to endorse Dan McKee for Governor of the State of Rhode Island.

“NEARI members conducted interviews of gubernatorial candidates and the group was impressed with the demonstration of diverse qualifications,” said NEARI-PACE Committee Chair Amy Mullen. “After thoughtful discussion, the committee was unanimous in our endorsement of Dan McKee to a full term as Rhode Island’s governor.”

NEA Rhode Island did not have much of an organizational relationship with Dan McKee when he was Lieutenant Governor, but when it became evident he would be elevated to the governor’s office, he made the choice to reach out and include NEARI in the dialogue regarding all the areas of concern to our 12,000 members. The first thing he did – because he listened to input from those in the K-12 system – was ensure classroom teachers and education support professionals got shots in arms to combat the COVID pandemic. McKee immediately set up clinics all over the state to ensure educators had access to vaccines to continue their critical work.

“Governor McKee put his money where his mouth is by ensuring funding for public school construction and even finally paying off an old debt owed by the state to the pension system,” said NEARI President Larry Purtill. “There have been, and still are, areas where we disagree with the Governor and frankly, all his rivals. However, communication with the McKee Administration has steadily become more active and robust as he accrues time in the role of governor.”

“When there were issues at the Community College of Rhode Island impacting our members, Governor McKee personally met with our local leaders,” said Mullen. “One outcome of that meeting was his appointment of Larry Purtill to the Council on Postsecondary Education, where our higher education members had not had a voice in nearly a decade. At the same time, he appointed Incoming Executive Director Mary Barden to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, so the voice of K-12 educators like me continues to be heard on that panel as well.”

Relationships matter. Listening to workers matters.

“In his time in office, Governor McKee has proven he wants a strong relationship with NEA Rhode Island,” said Purtill. “He invited open dialogue throughout the height of the pandemic, he has listened and responded to the voice of the worker, and he has articulated his belief that public education is the backbone of our society and the roots from which a strong, viable and healthy state blooms. His life experience as a coach, and marriage to a public-school teacher and longtime NEARI member, have given him unique insight into what our students and educators struggle with daily.

“NEARI believes Governor McKee’s commitment to K-12 educators, higher education faculty and staff, Department of Health professionals, state and municipal service workers, and retirees, will continue when he is elected to a full term in office, and we are proud to endorse his candidacy for governor today.”