Chicago – Nearly 6,000 delegates gathered for the first time in person since 2020 for the National Education Association’s 101st Representative Assembly (RA) and approved an NEA policy statement to ensure safe, just, and equitable schools for all students. NEA policy statements set forth the Association’s position on a number of pressing matters. To date, there are now nine policy statements ranging on issues such as community schools, digital learning, and charter schools, to name a few.
The RA delegates approved the policy statement in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, as students, educators and communities face politicians and institutions taking away freedoms and rights, brushing off a growing gun violence epidemic, and increasing restrictions on what educators can teach and what students can learn, and attempts to divide communities along race and place.
The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle:
“Our public schools should inspire imagination, cultivate critical thinking, and ensure that all students – regardless of their race, background, or ZIP code, can pursue their dreams. Representative Assembly delegates today approved the new NEA policy on safe, just, and equitable public schools, which cements the Association’s vision of schools as thriving spaces that are safe and welcoming for all students, discriminatory toward none. It aims to integrate the social, emotional and physical needs of the whole student, and provide services that support students throughout the school day and beyond.
“The new policy also meets the present moment and the challenges facing our students, educators, and communities. It sets as our North Star for achieving our vision of safe, just, and equitable public schools by prescribing ways in which students and educators can flourish and eliminate the obstacles and policies that harm students and impede their success.”
The new NEA policy statement continues to build on existing and ongoing racial and social justice work of the Association and its more than three million members since 2016. In 2021, RA delegates approved a measure, NBI-A, that established a task force to identify criteria for safe, just, and equitable schools. Over the course of a year, the task force met to research, gather evidence, and consult with educators and experts. The work involved engaging with national partners, state and local affiliates, racial justice advocates, allies, and community activists. The result of their work is the new NEA policy statement.
The following core principles guide the NEA policy statement:
- Adopt a restorative justice philosophy to create a school climate that rejects the criminalization and policing of students;
- Provide training and support for culturally competent instruction;
- Develop and implement plans to end disparities in disciplinary and behavioral practices; and
- Create a community-centered school environment to foster safe, positive environments and engage all members of the public school.
Last, in order for this policy to succeed and to have the desired positive effect on students and public education, the NEA also will continue to activate, engage, and mobilize its more than three million members to realize the vision outlined in the policy statement. This includes but is not limited to engaging with national partners, organizations, parents, community allies, and racial and social justice stakeholders to advocate for safe, just, and equitable public schools for all students.
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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, students preparing to become teachers, healthcare workers, and public employees. Learn more at www.nea.org