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Press Release

Texas special education teacher elected secretary-treasurer of NEA

Noel Candelaria, a special education teacher and former teacher’s aide from El Paso, Texas, has been elected secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association at the virtual Representative Assembly (RA).
Published: August 5, 2020

WASHINGTON - August 05, 2020 - Noel Candelaria, a special education teacher and former teacher’s aide from El Paso, Texas, has been elected secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union representing 3 million educators. 

Nearly 6,000 NEA elected delegates to NEA’s virtual Representative Assembly (RA), which was conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 crisis, cast mail-in ballots electing a new NEA president, vice president and secretary-treasurer. 

The newly elected leaders are taking the helm of NEA during an unprecedented time for our students, schools, and communities. COVID-19 closed school buildings across our nation this spring, and now school communities are wrestling with incredibly difficult decisions as they return to learning. 

“The pandemic has exposed the inequities our most vulnerable students face,” said Candelaria. “We must demand all students get the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Whether school buildings are open or not, educators are preparing to ensure all students have the best possible learning.” 

Candelaria previously served as president and vice president of NEA’s Texas affiliate, the Texas State Teachers Association. He has held leadership positions at the National Council of State Education Associations, NEA Member Benefits and the National Teacher Hall of Fame (NTHF). As the chair of the Memorial to Fallen Educators at NTHF, legislation was passed under his leadership to designate the monument as a national memorial site. Candelaria has also served on numerous national committees and task forces including the NEA Human and Civil Rights Committee. 

“I know that public education is the heart of the American dream,” said Candelaria. “We know from experience that every student can learn. We also know that shortchanging our schools today could shortchange our children for a lifetime.”  

“Noel will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the NEA leadership team,” said outgoing NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. “He knows that our students, our schools are our purpose.” 

Candelaria and his wife Patty, who is a National Board Certified Teacher, have been tireless advocates, committed to the success of every student in their community, across Texas, and the nation. As a son of hard-working immigrants growing up in El Paso, Candelaria appreciates the opportunities provided by public education.  

Candelaria will join newly elected President Becky Pringle and Vice President Princess Moss at the helm of NEA. The leadership team, which is all people of color, will head the nation’s largest labor union. 

Candelaria assumes his new duties on September 1, 2020. 

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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

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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

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.