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Governance Document

NEA and Racial Justice in Education

Racial justice is the systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.

Background

NEA has a vision for great public schools for every student. We know that institutional and structural racism are barriers to achieving our vision. We will leverage the power and collective voice or our members to end the systemic patterns of racial inequity and
injustice that affect our Association, schools, students and education communities.

Racial justice — or racial equity — goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures.

Combating institutional racism and advancing racial justice in education and beyond is at the forefront of the NEA’s vision to provide a great public school for every student.

New  Business Item B

At the 2015 Representative Assembly, NEA adopted NBI-B, which recognized the role that institutional racism plays in our society, including in our schools. NBI-B directed NEA to spotlight patterns of systemic racism and educational injustice that impact students, and to take action to enhance access and opportunity for all students to have a great education. We will take action by demanding changes to policies, programs, and practices that condone or ignore unequal treatment of students and hinder their success.

The more than 7,000 delegates of the 2015 NEA Representative Assembly sent a resounding message. By unanimously passing NBI B, they committed the NEA to acknowledging institutional racism explicitly and using its collective voice to bring to light and demand change to policies, programs and practices that condone or ignore unequal treatment and hinder student success.


NBI B’s opening paragraph states:

“We, the members of the National Education Association, acknowledge the existence in our country of institutional racism – the societal patterns and practices that have the net effect of imposing oppressive conditions and denying rights, opportunity, and equality based upon race. This inequity manifests itself in our schools and in the conditions our students face in their communities. In order to address institutional racism,
the National Education Association shall lead by: 1) spotlighting systemic patterns of inequity – racism and educational injustice – that impact our students; and 2) taking action to enhance access and opportunity for our students.”


Since the passage of NBI B on Institutional Racism, the association has systematically engaged in ongoing and research-based dialogue on being more explicit in its external and internal language and work related to racial and social justice. This association wide emphasis has included examining existing work, policies, events and language to identify opportunities to communicate more unambiguously and improve inclusion.

Resolution I-52: White Supremacy Culture

Racial and Social Justice in Education is a stated priority for NEA. Expanding our collective understanding of institutional racism, structural racism, and White Supremacy Culture is critical to achieving racial and social justice.  The action taken by the 2018 Representative Assembly to affirm White Supremacy Culture as a primary root cause of the racial and social injustice we have seen in our history as well as what we see in contemporary society is yet another step for the organization towards becoming a racial justice leader.

Resolution I-52: White Supremacy Culture

The National Education Association believes that, in order to achieve racial and social justice, educators must acknowledge the existence of White supremacy culture as a primary root cause of institutional racism, structural racism, and White privilege. Additionally, the Association believes that the norms, standards, and organizational structures manifested in White supremacy culture perpetually exploit and oppress people of color and serve as detriments to racial justice. Further, the invisible racial benefits of White privilege, which are automatically conferred irrespective of wealth, gender, and other factors, severely limit opportunities for people of color and impede full achievement of racial and social justice. Therefore, the Association will actively advocate for social and educational strategies fostering the eradication of institutional racism and White privilege perpetuated by White supremacy culture.

 The 2020-2021 resolutions are available here

Racial Justice in Education Timeline

2015

  • NEA officers and Executive Committee work with NEA staff to draft the vision and strategic objectives towards advancing racial justice in education. 
  • NEA coordinates listening sessions with leaders, staff, and partners to receive input on key leverage points, strategy, and NEA’s unique opportunities in advancing racial justice in education.
  • NEA hosts an Institutional Racism Town Hall at the Women’s/Minority East Leadership Training in New Orleans. And subsequently, prioritizes engagement sessions at all events—Higher Ed Conference, Retired Conference, Leadership Summit, ESP Conference, Aspiring Educators Conference, and Budget hearings.

2016

  • In collaboration with the NEA Executive Committee and NEA members, NEA begins far-reaching training on advancing racial justice at the national, state, and local levels.
  • NEA partners with Race Forward to co-create NEA RJ framing to advance awareness, build capacity, and foment action toward racial justice in education.
  • NEA leans into strategic partnerships in the work, inclusive of the White House, civil rights group, and youth groups. 
  • NEA delegates adopt the NEA Policy Statement on Discipline and the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
  • NEA launches NEAedjustice.org to engage, mobilize, and increase the number of activists in the fight for racial, social, and economic justice in public education.
  • NEA creates the Center for Social Justice to advance great public schools for every student by providing guidance and support to build affiliate capacity and disrupt oppression and promote racial justice in public schools and beyond.
  • NEA includes racial justice as a strategic objective in its “2014-2016 Strategic Plan and Budget.”

2017

  • NEA continues extensive efforts around awareness, capacity, and action in a Trump Administration.
  • Immigration advocacy is explicitly connected to racial justice advocacy and introduces School Boards resolutions in support of immigrant communities.
  • NEA’s Center for Social Justice convenes the Conference on Racial and Social Justice (CRSJ).
  • NEA’s Center for Social Justice teams with the National Council of Urban Education Associations to launch a monthly “Urban and Minority Issues Dialogue” town hall focused on advancing racial justice.
  • The National Council of State Education Associations adopt racial and social justice as a priority.

2018

  • NEA convenes a Racial Equity Summit with local, state, and national public education leaders to identify internal challenges to racial equity and opportunities to explore external barriers to racial justice in the education workforce.
  • NEA’s Center for Social Justice introduces implicit bias, white supremacy, and white fragility training
  • NEA delegates adopt Resolution I-52, acknowledging white supremacy culture as a root cause of institutional racism, structural racism, and white privilege.
  • NEA prioritizes Racial Justice grants via CAPE and CGPS grants

2019

  • The NEA Center for Social Justice launches its Black Lives Matter at Schools resources page, with sample school board and city council resolutions, an action pledge and activity map.
  • The Center for Social Justice rolls out neacsjpd.org, where NEA members and affiliates can receive student-centered, research-based, and educator-driven training to advance racial and social justice in public education.
  • NEA announces Kim Anglin Anderson as its executive director, the first woman and first person of color to serve in that role.
  • NEA Member Benefits’ Board of Directors approves a performance plan to institutionalize MB's commitment to promote racial and social justice and use its influence with major companies to promote racial justice.
  • NEA President Lily Eskelsen García delivers remarks at the SXSW EDU Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas. The remarks, "Racial Justice in Education: Confronting the Crisis," were the first by an NEA president at the well-known conference.

2020

  • NEA RA delegates overwhelming vote for Pennsylvania teacher Becky Pringle as NEA president. Pringle is a longtime leader on racial justice.
  • NEA President Becky Pringle participates in virtual town halls, panels, and discussions by various leading civil rights and women’s right organizations. Educators, parents, and students continue the movement for equitable access to a quality education for all students in the time of COVID. Over 800,000 individuals participate.
  • NEA’s Board of Directors adopts “Racial Equity Language Review: Report and Recommendations,” to ensure internal and external language and terms related to race and ethnicity are respectful, inclusive, equitable and unifying,
  • NEA’s board of directors adopts “Justice for Black Lives Demands,” an organizing tool for members, leaders and allies developed by the Center for Social Justice to help make federal, state, and local policy change.
  • NEA’s Center for Social Justice partners with Race Class Narrative to create winning messages and organizing efforts in support of the racial justice movement.
  • NEA’s Center for Social Justice creates a Racial Justice Framework to frame existing work and serve as a guide for those connected to the work. 

 

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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.