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The right man, in the right place, at the right time

Association remembers former NEA President Richard D. Batchelder for his extraordinary leadership

WASHINGTON - March 08, 2013 -

Richard D. Batchelder was elected the 103rd president of NEA in 1965; he was the youngest elected president in the Association's history. Batchelder is remembered for his courage and commitment to social justice issues. As NEA president, Richard D. Batchelder led the historic and successful merger between the predominately white NEA and the predominately Black American Teachers Association in 1966. The following statement from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel was issued today, praising Richard D. Batchelder’s leadership and contributions: 

“The entire NEA Family mourns the death of Richard D. Batchelder. He played a singularly seminal role in shaping NEA’s core values of equal opportunity, collective action, democracy, professionalism, and partnership. Richard was a true social justice champion. It took courage, vision, and tremendous moral conviction and just the right leader to merge the ATA and NEA into an organization whose mission today is to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.

“More than 45 years since the merger with ATA, NEA is still holding fast and working toward Richard D. Batchelder’s dream of a more just and equal society. We recently sent a letter to President Obama, outlining key principles of our Opportunity Agenda that includes an economy that works for everyone; great public schools for every student and democracy that protects every American’s voice and vote. The vision and work of Richard D. Batchelder form the foundation for these principles that guide our work even today.

“Those of us who knew Richard D. Batchelder remember him not only as an outstanding and accomplished leader, we remember him fondly as an unpretentious, outgoing, and gregarious man. He was a fierce defender of school personnel and the disadvantaged—he was a first-class gentleman and consummate professional.

“NEA is deeply grateful to Richard D. Batchelder. He will continue to be praised and held in very high esteem by generations of educators from diverse backgrounds as the man who had the courage and vision to unite us and make us better and stronger to fight the good fight. He was indeed the right man for NEA, in the right place, at the right time.”

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

MEDIA CONTACT: René Carter, 202-822-7494,