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NEA News

NEA President Becky Pringle Answers Educator Questions During National Tour

Pringle’s national tour mission is to share her vision and listen to member voices.
Becky Pringle meets with educators in Alhambra, California Susan Goldman
Published: 09/08/2021

Key Takeaways

  1. Pringle's tour will engage and encourage educators, families and communities to build a more racially and socially just and equitable democracy.
  2. Pringle’s latest tour stop took her to the Mid-Atlantic, including Pennsylvania, where she lived and taught for many years.
  3. During a tele-townhall, she answered questions from members across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania about the pandemic and other education issues.

NEA President Becky Pringle and Pennsylvania Education Association (PSEA) President Rich Askey hosted a “Back to School” tele-townhall September 7 where she shared her vision for the profession and answered questions from NEA members from across Pennsylvania.

Becky’s stop in the Commonwealth is part of a cross-country tour to engage and encourage educators, families and communities to build a more racially and socially just and equitable democracy. Pringle’s tour has taken her to California and Kentucky as well as Pennsylvania. Next she will visit New Jersey and New York before heading to Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Later this fall, her tour will take her to the southwest where she will make stops in Nevada and Arizona.

Her visit in Pennsylvania was a homecoming. It’s where she spent her childhood and many years teaching middle school science in Philadelphia. In fact, one stop on her tour is Girl’s High, her high school alma mater and the oldest all-girls public high school in the country.

As she told educators participating in the PSEA townhall, Pringle is making it her mission “to listen, learn and share the inspiring stories of the 3 million members who share NEA’s vision for every student to experience all the joy, justice and excellence of an education system that reflects our highest aspirations.”

Below are summaries of a few of the townhall participant questions and Pringle’s answers.

How will NEA engage more educators of color?

Pringle acknowledged that there is a huge need for more diversity in our school staff. She outlined efforts to work with community partners and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to recruit, support and retain a more diverse workforce for schools, including apprenticeships for recent graduates to learn about the education profession while “on the job.”

How how will the union address pay scales?

“The reality is that educators have never received professional compensation and that is at the top of our list of priorities,” Pringle said. “We will work on bringing pay and benefits up to a professional rate for teachers and for ESPs, across the board.”

What can we do to stop school boards or parent groups from removing diverse texts from the curriculum?

“We must be honest about our history with our students, showing them the times when our country has lived up to its magnificent promise as well as the times when it did not,” Pringle said. “Students deserve that honesty from us. So we are going to stand up to fight efforts to censor that history and we are going to fight to teach the true and complete history. Our students are going to be the ones who come up with solutions to make this a more perfect union. They need to learn from history, all of our history, to do that.”

PSEA President Rich Askey added that elections matter and he encouraged more educators to get involved in school board and other local elections.

“We make change by putting the right people into leadership positions,” he said.

Pringle encouraged participants and educators everywhere to learn more about NEA’s See Educators Run program that helps educators learn how to run for office, fundraise and communicate with voters.

How can we support colleagues in states where elected leaders ignore the science and ban mask mandates?

“We are working with members in those states where the people in elected positions are politicizing the health and safety of educators and students,” said Pringle. “We know what protects us, and we want to stay in schools, in person. We have a partnership with Secretary of Education Cardona to ensure that those who have been threatened to lose funding are taken care of. Secretary Cardona has written to the states saying that if the state or local government takes any funding away from them, he will make them whole on the federal level. He will protect those administrators who are doing the right thing, and we will work with them. Safety shouldn’t be a political debate.”

One of the biggest problems we face is disinformation regarding the pandemic. What can we do to allay the fears and disinformation about masks and vaccines?

“Educators are still the most trusted voice in our communities and it is essential that you continue to lift up your voice. Don’t stop,” Pringle said. “We have to align ourselves with the partners in the community who also follow the science, and they are there. So many times it seems we are surrounded by the voices of disinformation, but we have found when we have done surveys and research, that the vast majority of parents and educators support masks and doing everything we possibly can to keep schools safe. Don’t stop engaging with others. Lift all of the voices of those following the science. All education groups are united in this -- include everyone in the education circle and keep lifting up your voices.”

National Joy, Justice and Excellence for Every Student Tour

Join NEA President Becky Pringle as she visits schools across the country to hear from NEA members about their concerns, challenges, and successes this school year. The theme of the tour is Joy, Justice and Excellence.

Joy comes from nurturing social and emotional learning that’s essential to each student’s academic development by implementing safety measures that meet CDC guidelines and providing access to nutritious meals, nurses, counselors and extra learning opportunities.

Justice comes from fostering an environment that upholds the dignity and respect of each student – whether Black or white, Latina or Asian, Native or newcomer – through equitable resources, restorative justice practices and a curriculum that honestly reflects the rich diversity of our history and culture.

Excellence comes from empowering each student to unlock their full potential, with personal attention from qualified educators, equipped with the proper training, tools and flexibility to tailor their lesson plans to the needs of the students they know best.

Learn more.

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.