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NEA provides guidance and resources for returning to classrooms safely, and with an emphasis on racial and social justice.
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Racial Justice in Education Framework

How to end the systemic patterns of racial inequity and injustice that affect our Association, schools, students and communities.
Key elements of NEA's framework
Published: 06/10/2020

NEA has a vision for a Great Public School 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.


  • Our collective work promotes a vision for public education that advances inclusion, equity,
    and racial and social justice in our schools, Association and society.
  • Our collective work must dismantle white supremacy, and ensure that bigotry and discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, disability or national origin are not part of our Association, classrooms, educational curricula, classroom management, school policies, and discipline practices.
  • Our Association and schools must be safe for all students, and free from state-sanctioned, racialized, and gender-based violence. Our work must actively divest from prison cultivation and invest in counselors and positive discipline practices.
  • Our work must result in action – programs, campaigns, policies, and capacity-building efforts for local NEA members that dismantle institutional racism now and into the future. Initiatives should create sustainable infrastructures that can continue to create systemic change and hold decision-makers, elected officials, and institutions accountable.
  • Our current governance leaders must recruit, engage, and promote leadership by educators of color to share the ladder of opportunity because we are stronger together.
  • Programs, campaigns, and projects must be driven by goals that are clearly outlined, tracked, and measured, and that have account- ability systems that explicitly promote racial justice.
  • Our work must promote education policies, professional practices and curricula which highlight and honor the histories and cultures of people of color and indigenous peoples.
  • We must work to ensure that all students have access to a safe and quality education, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status.
  • Our work must promote and support the engagement of students of color and LGBTQ students in shaping policies that directly impact their educational experience, and foster safe and inclusive schools.
  • We must work to dismantle discipline systems that create the School to Prison Pipeline and replace them with practices that encourage inclusion and are free from racial and ethnic bias.


Racial equity and justice in education is a critical element to achieving our mission and vision. It demands that we view our collective work through a Racial Equity Lens. Racial Equity Lens, when applied authentically, enhances choices, decision-making and allocation of resources.

Our ability to apply a Racial Equity Lens, means that we are:

  • effectively and more thoroughly analyzing what is not working around racial equity in public education;
  • identifying and actively supporting solutions that are working to increase racial equity and preventing racial injustice in public education;
  • shifting our choices and decision-making about racial equality in public schools;
  • transforming and healing ourselves, the structures within the public education system and our own institution.


Throughout our history, the NEA has joined in partnership to move policies that would address inequities in education, but we understand now that racial justice in education requires movement beyond racial equity which is where we find ourselves; at the precipice of doing a lot with limited ability to sustain it.

That movement will require that:

  • We have a deep understanding of racial history and the trauma caused and are able to acknowledge its presence throughout systems, cultural norms, practices and policies.
  • We focus on solutions that will build power (political, economic, civic, community) for the most sharply impacted communities and people.
  • We effectively use racial impact assessment tools and develop racial justice action plans
  • We shift and share power, program, and resources
  • We adopt anti-racist and racial justice protocols & practices
  • Culture and narrative shift
  • Data is used to drive results/impacts


The NEA Racial Justice in Education Framework was developed in conjunction with the principles and concepts embedded in the “Wheel of Change” model. This framework centers and guides our systems change work, which includes our behaviors/practices, organizational culture and our strategies to impact the hearts and minds of the people. The framework also identifies the organizational “levers” that must be engaged to create transformational change to develop and build a more knowledgeable, more skilled racial analysis and a deeper commitment towards racial justice and equity.

Three Elements Of The Framework


Goal: to develop and strengthen our collective awareness and understanding of the causes and impacts of systemic (institutional and structural) racism in education and the necessity for racial justice and the centrality of racial justice in achieving NEA’s mission.

  • Build racial equity awareness and analytical capacity across our Association
  • Fostering understanding of key concepts such as systemic (institutional and structural) racism, implicit bias, racial equity and multiracial systemic solutions.
  • Develop shared knowledge and conceptual clarity that supports normalizing explicit and constructive conversations about race.


Goal: equip and prepare members and leaders with skills to use the strategies to take action to advance racial justice.

  • Equip members, leaders, staff and partners with the skills, tools, strategies, resources and relationships to be effective leaders and advocates in the fight for racial justice in education.
  • Develop tools and resources to support organizational and cultural change through policy, practice and behavior changes.


Goal: to engage members and stakeholders to advocate, organize and mobilize to combat institutional racism and advance racial justice in education.

  • Engage and activate members, leaders and stakeholders in on-the-ground efforts to combat institutional racism and advance racial justice.
  • Support external organizing efforts to advance changes in our schools and communities
  • Support internal opportunities to implement equitable practices that positively impact the Association’s work and promote culture change.

Analysis & Intervention: Identification & Implementation


A systems approach to organizational change and impact.

  • Hearts and Minds
  • Behaviors
  • Structures

Connecting Framework Elements


Hearts & Minds:

  • Purpose/Vision
  • Values/Beliefs
  • Emotions/Feelings
  • Community Analysis



  • Norms
  • Practices
  • Skills
  • Communications
  • Measures & Outcomes



  • Processes
  • Strategies
  • Structures
  • Core Competencies
  • Budgets
  • Policy Change

Organizational Change and Impact Levers

  • ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE (OC): Shared values and beliefs (National, State and Local Affiliates)
  • LEARNING CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT (LC&E): Development and investment in staff and leader capacity. (National and State Affiliates)
  • DATA, ASSESSMENT, EVALUATION & STRATEGIC RESEARCH: Comprehensive strategy to develop assumptions, test, assess and evaluate outcomes. (National)
  • SENIOR STAFF LEADERSHIP (SL): Individuals in formal staff leadership roles (NEA, State Affiliates and Local Affiliates)
  • GOVERNANCE—OFFICERS/EC/BOARD OF DIRECTORS/COMMITTEES, COUNCILS, CONSTITUENCIES & CAUCUSES (GOV): Governance structure of the organization (NEA, State Affiliates and Local Affiliates)
  • MANAGEMENT (MGMT): Staff that oversee the operationalizing of budgets, programs and teams. (NEA, State Affiliates and Local Affiliates)
  • MEMBERS (MEM): Association members, across all categories
  • COMMUNITY/PARTNERS/ALLIES (CPA): Education and community stakeholders (National, State and Local)


Based on the choices and decisions we make as an organization, we can measure and monitor how we move through phases of becoming a racial equity and justice focused organization. It should be


  • Ignores race, denies racism
  • Ignores equity
  • Marginalizes People of Color

Equity-Ineffective/Diversity-Inclusion Committed

  • Race is not centered or is watered down
  • Embraces diversity or DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) at least on paper – but all talk, no action
  • Reactive, not proactive, on race
  • Change happens at a turtle’s pace

Equity-Centric/Racial Justice–Focused

  • Elevates and centers racial justice as a strategic priority and mission imperative
  • Prioritizes equity in internal and external work
  • Implements Racially Equitable Systems Change (visualize, normalize, organize and operationalize)
  • Organization-wide operations, program, and culture change



  • Agreements that racial justice is a strategic imperative


  • Shared analysis, definitions and key concepts
  • Ongoing learning and capacity-building
  • Relevant and routine race-explicit conversation about daily core work


  • Develop internal equity infrastructure
  • Racial Equity Core Team
  • Authentic/active stakeholder engagement
  • Equity leadership development
  • Build external partnerships, allies
  • Commitment to racially equitable systems change
  • Mission, vision, and values address racial justice and equity


  • Racial Equity Action Plan
  • Use data to drive results/impacts
  • Use Racial Equity Tools
  • Adopts racial equity protocols and practices
  • Power, program, and resource shift
  • Culture and narrative shift
NEA provides guidance and resources for returning to classrooms safely, and with an emphasis on racial and social justice.

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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.