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Press Release

NEA delegates approve measure to recommend policy actions on the use of AI

Pringle: Using AI equitably, fairly, and safely is essential to guide and inspire our students
Published: July 4, 2024 Last Updated: July 4, 2024

PHILADELPHIA- Nearly 7,000 educator delegates gathered at the Philadelphia Convention Center for the National Education Association’s 103rd Representative Assembly (RA), where they approved a policy statement to address the emerging phenomenon of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on public schools.  

With approximately 50 million students in public schools and the increasing use of AI, this issue requires careful consideration by the nation's educators. The RA, the highest decision-making body representing the NEA's over 3 million members, sets association policy and priorities for the upcoming year. 

“Artificial intelligence has evolved into a permanent fixture in our communities and schools. Using these new tools equitably, fairly, and safely is essential for our nation’s educators to guide and inspire their students and classes,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “Utilizing this technology in a manner that supports invaluable face-to-face relationships between educators and students as well as effective pedagogy should always be a priority. 

“As students and educators in schools and on campuses start to adopt AI-enabled tools, it is crucial that we all understand the biases baked into AI and recognize our own biases. We need to ensure we maximize benefits while minimizing and eliminating harms to student learning,” added Pringle. “We must always choose the safest and most effective tools and ensure technology does not exacerbate inequities but rather supports our students and the wide range of races, cultures, learning styles, disabilities, and identities they bring into our classrooms.”  

At the heart of the new policy is the principle that the student-educator connection must always be the center of the teaching and learning experience and must play a significant role in every consequential education decision. The policy also has a heavy focus on the importance of inclusivity in the design, implementation, and evaluation of AI-enabled technology, pointing out that traditionally marginalized groups, including students and educators with disabilities, Native students and educators, and students and educators of color, have an essential role to play in all phases of AI development and adoption.    

The policy statement makes clear that content generated by AI should never be used as the sole or primary source of information for determinative educational or employment decisions. Grade promotion, class and assignment grades, diagnoses, employment evaluations, disciplinary matters, and other consequential decisions should be made by qualified educators and administrators who will consider the uniqueness of all individuals and contexts. 

Along with the policy statement, the NEA released a report summarizing the findings of its Task Force on Artificial Intelligence in Education. As of this release, fewer than 20 states have issued guidance about the use of AI in education. With the new policy statement and report, NEA members will be prepared to advocate for the policies, practices, and professional development needed to ensure this exciting technology is used safely, effectively, and equitably in educational environments.  

“Navigating this significant technological shift will require intense attention and cooperation by schools, educators, state and local affiliates, administration, and communities,” said Pringle. “Above all else, the needs of students and educators should drive AI’s use in education -– and educators must be at the table to ensure these tools support effective teaching and learning for all students, regardless of ZIP code.” 

The report provides advocacy guidance and policy recommendations to ensure the safe and responsible use of AI in the nation's classrooms and on campuses. It calls for the NEA to recommend policy and advocacy actions that: 

Highlight how AI can help educators develop equitable, inclusive instruction methods for students with disabilities, so that individual educational needs can be supported with adaptive technology.  

  1. While ensuring equitable access for all students and educators is critical, it is similarly important that AI resources are universally designed to maximize accessibility to students and educators with disabilities. 
  2. AI, with its highly adaptive nature, can assist students with disabilities and educators who work with them. Educators can leverage AI to strengthen the delivery of individualized instruction, including helping with the implementation of modifications and accommodations that meet students' individual needs, support communication, and enhance personal mobility systems.  

Demand that policymakers actively include the voices of diverse students, educators, and caregivers when adopting AI-enabled technology and creating AI-related policies.  

  1. Educators, students, special education experts, caregivers, and other interest-holders should be included in the evaluation of AI applications and understand the benefits and risks of the technology.  
  2. Policymakers and educational leaders must actively seek and listen to voices that are diverse in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, disability status, position, and institutional level. The demographics of technology developers do not reflect those of today’s students or educators, and we must ensure that AI is implemented in ways that do not widen educational inequities or expose students to algorithmic bias or other harms. 

Stress the need for students and educators alike to develop AI literacy throughout their academic and professional lives, including understanding AI’s benefits and risks. 

  1. Being AI literate means more than knowing the basics about the technology or understanding relevant terms. Literacy involves knowing the uses of AI, understanding AI bias, and being aware of the ethical considerations involved with AI use. 
  2. AI literacy should focus on developing skills to critically evaluate information and content generated by AI and understanding effective and appropriate uses for AI in educational settings. Educators should also know how to use AI-enabled technology in safe, ethical, and responsible ways and model this use for their students. 
  3. For students, AI literacy should be developed across the curriculum, not just in computer science and related courses. Furthermore, all students should have access to a rich AI literacy curriculum, not just the most advantaged or most advanced. 

Call attention to AI’s increasingly harmful environmental effects; data centers that house AI and cloud technology continue to absorb and compete for energy, water, and local natural resources.  

  1. Despite their operation in a virtual space, AI has considerable, tangible effects on the environment. It will potentially intensify greenhouse gas emissions, consume increasing amounts of energy, and require larger quantities of national resources. 
  2. A single generative AI query consumes energy at four or five times the magnitude of a typical search engine request. 
  3. With the increasing need for computing power, new data centers are being built across the country, often in rural areas that have lower land valuations compared to suburban or urban areas. These data centers not only need and compete for energy but consume local natural resources like water. 

At the 2023 Representative Assembly, NEA President Becky Pringle called for the creation of an AI task force, a coalition that includes education support professionals, teachers, faculty, and specialized instructional support personnel with experiences ranging from Pre-K to higher education. Since the task force was appointed, members have met regularly to explore new AI developments, discuss the risks and benefits of using AI in education, investigate its effects on student learning, and talk about how to prepare NEA members to be effective advocates for its safe, equitable, and appropriate use.  

“As new digital tools emerge, we must consider their impact on traditional social interactions,” said Pringle. “AI can assist and enhance the learning process, but it’s the face-to-face relationships that truly make a difference. Educators are the ones who inspire, motivate, and guide students.” 

To view the report in its entirety, visit 

For more information on NEA’s RA, go to

Follow on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @NEAToday and @BeckyPringle

Keep up with the conversation on social media at #NEARA


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, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at 


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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.