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Racial Justice in Education Framework

NEA's framework for Racial Justice in Education
Key elements of NEA's framework
Published: 01/2021


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

Equity To Justice

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. A lack of movement will keep us at the precipice of doing a lot with limited ability to sustain it.

It will require that:

  • We have a deep understanding of racial history and the trauma caused and are able to acknowledge its presence throughout systems, 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 & develop racial justice action plans.
  • We shift and share power, program, & resources.
  • We adopt anti-racist and racial justice protocols & practices.
  • We shift culture and narrative.
  • Data is used to drive results/impacts.

Racial Justice in Education Framework

The NEA Racial Justice in Education Framework was developed in conjunction with the principles and concepts embedded in the “Wheel of Change” model (adapted from the Rockwood Wheel of Change).

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

The Framework Core


Goal: 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: Equip members and stakeholders with tools and skills to advocate, organize
and mobilize to disrupt 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

Critical to transformational change is developing a sharp analysis of systems within institutions, including decision-making and policy creation. A thoughtful analysis prepares us to identify interventions and sustainable solutions that can be strategically implemented. This framework is designed to offer elements of analysis to accurately target these interventions and identify appropriate actions to meet the challenges.

The framework core elements are the first layer and, to deepen the analysis, we must identify on which organizational levers and dynamics we will focus. The Wheel of Change, a systems approach to organizational change and impact, adapted from the Rockwood Leadership Institute, can aide our ability to do that.

  • Hearts & Minds: Purpose, Vision, Values, Beliefs, Emotions, Feelings, Community, Analysis
  • Behaviors: Norms, Practices, Skills, Communications, Measures & Outcomes
  • Structures: Strategies, Structures, Core Competencies, Budgets, Policy Change

Used together, the three elements of this framework give us the opportunity to ensure complete review and analysis of complex systems, and to identify components to leverage for systems change. 

Connecting Framework Elements

Wheel of Change


  • 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, State and Local Affiliates)
  • DATA, ASSESSMENT, EVALUATION & STRATEGIC RESEARCH: Comprehensive strategy to develop assumptions, test, assess and evaluate outcomes. (National, State and Local Affiliates)
  • SENIOR STAFF LEADERSHSIP (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 (National, State and Local Affiliates) 
  • MANAGEMENT (MGMT): Staff that oversee the operationalizing of budgets, programs and teams. (National, State and Local Affiliates)
  • MEMBERS (MEM): Association members, across all categories
  • COMMUNITY/PARTNERS/ALLIES/CO-CONSPIRATORS (CPAC): Education and community stakeholders (National, State and Local Affiliates)

Measuring Impact

Organizational Progress To Change

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:

Measuring Impact for Organizational Change

Organizational Systems Change

Organizational Systems Change

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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.