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We partner with communities, parents, coalitions, and students to build equitable systems, so every student has what they need, when they need it.
Princess Moss at the 2020 Time to Thrive Conference

Our partners are diverse in history, location, and expertise, but united in our goals: ensuring student success, promoting professional excellence, and creating educational opportunity and equity for all. 

With our partners — and in particular, our affiliates — we have more voices advancing our leadership and justice priorities at the local, state, and national level. See how we find the right partners and who we’re working with today.

Evaluating Potential Partners

We use the following guidelines to help assess potential partner organizations:

  • Concurrence with NEA’s Resolutions, Legislative Program and Policy Statements
  • Membership in any NEA-affiliated network or coalition
  • Public education ally
  • Education advocacy history
  • Fiscal health of the organization
  • Whether there is a pattern or practice of discrimination against groups of employees or consumers or any other employee relations disputes.
  • Whether the corporation/organization has shown support for privatization of public education, public employee benefits, or other services related to public education or public services generally.
  • Whether the corporation/organization has engaged in anti-union activity.

NEA-AFT Partnership

In October 2001, the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) formed a partnership to work together on behalf of our members and on behalf of all those whom our members serve. 

Both of our organizations are committed to nurturing and improving public education above all. We are determined to fight for family needs, which must be met in order to make our public schools the equalizer they have been and should be for society. This encompasses quality of life issues, such as health care for all Americans, safe neighborhoods and a caring government.

The Partnership leaves each organization free to differ and to conduct each organization's work separately and independently, but enables the two groups to work together in a new relationship focused at every level of our organizations on common interests we share about critical educational issues and issues of vital significance to children.

Partnership Structure

The NEA-AFT Partnership is the recommendation of the NEA and AFT Unity Discussion Teams and Advisory Committees, which met between September and December 2000. It was determined that:

  • The NEA-AFT Partnership shall be directed by a joint council, which shall be composed of 15 representatives from each organization, including the executive committees of each organization. 
  • The activities of the NEA-AFT Partnership shall be jointly funded and staffed by the AFT and NEA, and the council shall meet at least three times per year. 
  • The AFT and NEA shall be responsible for their own expenses and staff assignments. 
  • The NEA-AFT Partnership shall establish clear measures of accountability and explicit checkpoints at which the organizations shall assess progress of joint activities and change direction as needed.

Partnership Authority

The NEA-AFT Partnership shall leave us free to differ and to conduct each organization's work separately and independently, but it shall bring us together in a new relationship focused at every level of our organizations on common interests we share about critical educational issues and issues of vital significance to children.

The NEA-AFT Partnership shall have the authority to make decisions and to advance common goals, but it shall be required to operate in conformity with policies and directives of the governance bodies of NEA and the AFT. 

The NEA-AFT Partnership shall provide the two organizations with a common front in dealing with critical educational and social issues. It shall also advocate, support and coordinate mutually agreed upon national, state, regional and local activities.

Partnership Goals and Projects

Common goals and projects of the Partnership could include:

1. Advocating for interaction and collaboration throughout the organizations—at local, state, regional and national levels by:

  • Developing models for and facilitating interactions at all levels to increase joint action on issues of common concern
  • Using the expertise of leaders, staff and consultants to facilitate work on joint projects at all levels
  • Facilitating opportunities for members of NEA and the AFT to learn about their counterparts in the other organization and its affiliations—at local, state, regional and national levels. These interactions shall be designed to build relationships between the organizations at all levels.

2. Engaging in joint projects on issues of mutual interest by:

  • Holding jointly planned and executed conferences on substantive topics of common interest; following up with joint activities at all levels
  • Creating opportunities to learn and work together on issues of mutual concern, such as teacher quality, professional development, technology and school safety
  • Creating opportunities for joint staff collaboration and training
  • Coordinating legal actions
  • Coordinating legislative actions
  • Creating joint national publications and/or including sections within existing national publications to present issues of common concern and to report on joint activities
  • Achieving collective bargaining rights in non-bargaining states
  • Fostering conversation and joint activity among corresponding constituency groups in each organization
  • Coordinating joint political education and information
  • Working to achieve appropriate funding for public education.

3. Increasing cooperation by:

  • Assisting states and locals in joint organizing ventures
  • Developing joint strategies to counteract anti-union competing organizations and initiatives
  • Creating forums and opportunities for learning about the experiences of merged states and locals.
  • Coordinating, with the appropriate AFT and NEA departments, the ongoing delivery of services to AFT-NEA merged states and locals.

Partnerships to Empower Educator Leaders

The Teacher Leadership Initiative

NEA, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and the Center for Teaching Quality have joined forces to create the Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI), an initiative to develop a new generation of leaders within the profession. TLI is focused on the following:

  1. defining the foundational competencies of teacher leadership;
  2. developing relevant experiences and support to help teachers cultivate those competencies; and,
  3. activating teachers to be leaders in their profession as a result of their participation in this process.

Learn more about the Teacher Leadership Initiative.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

NEA was one of the founding members of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), an organization committed to advancing student learning and achievement by establishing the definitive standards and systems for certifying accomplished educators, providing programs and advocating policies that support excellence in teaching and leading, and engaging National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) and leaders in that process.

NEA, in partnership with NBPTS, seeks to elevate the status, voice and role of accomplished teachers in shaping a true profession. This includes:

  1. raising public awareness with respect to the cognitively complex, collaborative and expertise-driven nature of teachers
  2. setting higher standards for entry and advancement into the profession; and,
  3. recognizing accomplished teaching through a rigorous professional certification process, comparable to those found in other premier professions, such as medicine, engineering and law.

Numerous NEA members serve on the Board of NBPTS, including the President of NEA. NEA and its affiliates have also advocated for policy initiatives which expand access to and recognition for teachers who earn National Board Certification status.

Learn more about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

NEA joined the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, Teacher Education Accreditation Council, and other stakeholders to review the uniform standards which formed Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP standards set a new and high bar for candidates entering the profession. NEA believes there should be high standards for entering the teaching profession.

Learn more about the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Partnerships to Advance Social Justice

Anti-bullying and School Climate

NEA has partnered with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Network (GLSEN), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and other stakeholders to lead efforts throughout the nation to create safe learning environments where students can excel. NEA believes that all of its members should have the tools and information they need to not only be a caring adult for students who are experiencing bullying, but also have the skills and knowledge to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Restorative Justice

NEA and the Advancement Project, in a broader coalition of organizations, have joined forces to advocate for restorative justice to reduce disparities in school disciplinary policies and practices that feed the school-to-prison pipeline.

Partnerships to Help Students Achieve Their Dreams

NILC DREAM Policy Table

NEA has joined with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and more than 100 organizations from around the country to form the NILC DREAM Policy Table, which advances a policy agenda that makes the dream of becoming citizens of the U.S. and of attending university a reality for young people.


We have partnered with NILC, Own the Dream, United We Dream and others to host clinics for students to learn how to file applications related to the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, so that aspiring Americans who have attended US public schools and meet certain eligibility criteria can apply for financial aid to attend college. NEA has provided resources to educators about how to help students navigate this process, and we have hosted DACA clinics in Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Learn more about our DACA resources for educators.


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.