Birth of the National Teachers Association
Ten state education associations issue a call to “unite … to advance the dignity, respectability and usefulness of their calling.” At first, only men can join, but women are welcomed in 1866.
NTA Denounces Slavery
At the summer convention, NTA President J.P. Wilkersham denounces slavery and recommends that no seceded states be readmitted to the Union until they agree to provide a free public school system for Black as well as white children.
NEA Elects Woman as Vice President
Just three years after membership is opened to women, the NTA elects Emily Rice as Vice President of the Association. In 1910, the NTA elects a woman as president — a decade before Congress grants women the right to vote.
NTA Becomes NEA
The NTA absorbs three smaller organizations, and gets its modern name: the National Education Association.
NEA Becomes a Representative Assembly
The NEA adopts its modern structure of affiliated state and local unions, with delegates to the Representative Assembly.
NEA Forms Joint Committee for Justice
In the 1920s, the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SASC) didn’t accredit schools for African American students, preventing them from attending many colleges and universities. The NEA joined with the American Teachers Association, whose members were primarily Black, to pressure SASC to change. The Joint Committee for Justice was the first of several successful NEA-ATA partnerships.
NEA Responds to Affiliate Discrimination
The national association focuses on equal treatment of members by affiliate leadership. It refuses to hold Representative Assemblies in cities that discriminate against delegates based on race.
NEA Protects Targets of School Segregation
Despite the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, Black educators were targeted or fired by schools trying to avoid desegregation orders. In response, NEA established a $1 million fund to “protect and promote the professional, civil, and human rights of educators,” and worked with the ATA to support those teachers.
NEA and ATA Merge
In 1964, the Representative Assembly passed a resolution requiring racially segregated affiliates to merge. Two years later, NEA becomes fully integrated, when the NEA and ATA agree to merge at the 1966 Representative Assembly.
NEA Elects First Hispanic President
NEA continues the fight for culturally responsive education. Work at the 1967 conference leads directly to the passage of the 1968 Bilingual Education Act—a great legacy for Braulio Alonso, NEA’s first Hispanic president.
NEA Elects First Black President
Elizabeth Duncan Koontz becomes NEA’s first Black president. Under her tenure, NEA establishes the Center for Human Relations, today known as Human & Civil Rights.
NEA Recognizes the Need for Inclusion and Diversity
NEA’s commitment to lifting all voices continues with the formation of ethnic-minority caucuses, including the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee. NEA also adopts new governing documents and Bylaw 3-1(g) to ensure ethnic minority representation in NEA governing bodies and the NEA Representative Assembly is guaranteed.
NEA Wins at the Supreme Court
NEA wins U.S. Supreme Court case striking down mandatory maternity leave for pregnant teachers.
NEA Welcomes All Educators
Education support professionals gain full membership rights in NEA at the beginning of the decade, followed two years later by the creation of the NEA-Retired program.
NEA Elects All-Female Leadership Team
For the first time in its history, the three top leadership positions at NEA are held by women and by persons of color, as Lily Eskelsen García, Becky Pringle, and Princess Moss are elected, respectively, President, Vice President, and Secretary-Treasurer by delegates at the Representative Assembly.
NEA Commits to Eradicating Institutional Racism
Delegates to NEA Representative Assembly adopt New Business Item B which acknowledges the existence of institutional racism in the United States—the societal patterns and practices that have the net effect of imposing oppressive conditions and denying rights, opportunity, and equality based on race—and sets forth actions and strategies for its elimination.
Educators Continue to Push for Equity
The Representative Assembly adopts NEA Resolution I-52 which acknowledges the existence of White supremacy culture as a primary root cause of institutional racism, structural racism, and White privilege.