NEA Representative Assembly
The annual meeting typically takes place during the final week of June and the first week of July. Various committees, constituencies, caucuses, leadership groups, and delegates from state and local affiliates gather to set policy and chart the direction of NEA business. It is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the Association and derives its powers from, and is responsible to, the membership.
The Representative Assembly adopts the strategic plan and budget, resolutions, the Legislative Program, and other policies of the Association. Delegates vote by secret ballot on proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws. Those delegates with full voting rights elect the executive officers, Executive Committee members, and at-large members of the NEA Board of Directors, as appropriate.
2023 NEA RA - Orlando, FL
NEA Representative Assembly 2023: Championing Education Justice Requires Love and Activism
A steady chorus of applause was heard throughout the Representative Assembly in Orlando, as a dynamic lineup of speakers addressed nearly 6,000 educators on why they work to end disability discrimination, fight for justice for all people, and speak up for their students, colleagues, and the education profession.
From NEA Executive Director Kim Anderson and this year’s Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year, Pamella Johnson, to disability activist Helena Donato-Sapp, their messages were rooted in love—one that actively listens, speaks out, shows up, understands, and solves problems. Also in the lineup was President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who reaffirmed their commitment to listening to educators and supporting public schools nationwide.
While there’s been much frustration and anger toward politicians, “anger isn’t the ‘why’ to our fight,” said Anderson. “Love is the reason we fight.”
She explained that it’s a type of love that listens to students and understands their needs for acceptance and safety. And it’s a love that acts to solves problems.
Through this love and collective action with unions, educators have increased education funding in several states, passed gun-safety legislation, beat back vouchers, and gone to the ballot box to elect lawmakers who value and understand the needs of educators and their students.
And it’s this “unconditional love for our students [that] gives us the strength to keep working tirelessly even when the pay and benefits don’t reflect what we need and deserve as knowledgeable and skilled educators,” said Johnson in her remarks. Johnson was named NEA ESP of the Year in March.
She added, “I want to make sure everyone has a seat at the table because representation matters—for ESPs, for all educators, and for my Black and brown, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and marginalized students.”
NEA Officials Re-Elected to Top Office
During the RA, delegates also re-elected Becky Pringle, a science teacher from Philadelphia with over 33 years of classroom experience, to continue leading educators as president of the three million-member NEA. Pringle is a fierce social justice warrior, a staunch defender of educators’ rights, and an unrelenting advocate for all students and communities of color.
“When I came into this role, I said we cannot and will not put off for one more second creating an education system that serves the needs of all our students, and that now is the time to address the systemic inequities that beset the most vulnerable students,” Pringle said.
She praised the educators participating in the RA, noting that delegates “embrace the magnitude of what you’ve been called to do. Deliberate and unafraid, you continue to demand that every student is seen and supported; that every educator is respected as the professional they are. Unbowed and unbroken, and with unwavering resolve, NEA, you are leading the work to promote, to protect, and to strengthen public education!”
Delegates also re-elected Princess Moss, an elementary music teacher from Louisa County, Va., as NEA vice president. A champion of children and public education at the local, state, and national levels, Moss distinguished herself for six years as NEA secretary-treasurer before assuming the vice presidency in 2020.
Additionally, Texas educator Noel Candelaria was re-elected NEA secretary-treasurer. Before his role as secretary-treasurer, Candelaria served as president and vice president of the NEA-affiliated Texas State Teachers Association.
In addition to re-electing the three leaders, the delegates also voted to elect two members to the NEA Executive Committee, comprised of three executive officers and six members elected at large by RA delegates. Delegates voted to re-elect to a second three-year term Mark Jewell, an elementary school teacher from Guilford County, North Carolina, and the former president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.
Shannon McCann, a middle school special education teacher and current president of the Federal Way Education Association in Washington State, was also elected to a first term on the executive committee. Previously, McCann was chair of NEA’s Legislative Committee and was twice elected to our NEA Strategic Plan and Budget Committee.
The 2024 RA will be held in Philadelphia, PA, on July 3-7
UEA/NEA RA Coordination Team:
2022 NEA RA - Chicago, IL
2022 NEA Representative Assembly
Among the 6,000 educators convening for the 2022 National Education Association Representative Assembly were 90 delegates representing NEA members from Utah. The 2022 Representative Assembly was held in-person in Chicago July 3-6 with a virtual participation option available. Nearly 70 delegates elected to participate in person.
Back and Better than Ever
NEA President Becky Pringle praises delegates for being “courageous and creative, prepared and persistent.”
By: Cindy Long, NEA Today Senior Writer
After two years of the pandemic, delegates to the 2022 NEA Representative Assembly (RA) were finally back in person, with about 6,000 members from around the country convening on July 3 – 6 in Chicago, with a remote option. There was a feeling of renewal and celebration after another difficult year. As delegates gathered, they felt restored by the hope, energy, and determination of their union to come back better and stronger than ever.
“We will prevail!” NEA President Becky Pringle promised in her keynote address.
The challenges facing educators, students, and communities today are real and many, Pringle acknowledged. They include crippling educator shortages, a lack of professional pay, an ongoing assault on curricula that honestly confront this nation’s history of racism and openly celebrate LGBTQ+ people.
But NEA members continue to stand strong and embrace their role as the voice of education professionals, she told the RA delegates.
“You have found a way to resist, even as you hold onto joy. Courageous and creative,” she said. “Prepared and persistent. You stand in the power of NEA—and NEA stands in the power that is you!”
Educators Fight for Freedom
In her address to delegates, Executive Director Kim Anderson said students are counting on educators to stand up for our freedom—and that it starts with the work that teachers and education support professionals (ESPs) do every day in their schools.
“You read books; you don’t ban them. You teach the truth about our history; you don’t deny it. You protect our children’s safety, not the gunmakers’ profits. You see our children as they are; you don’t deny their identities,” Anderson said before the energized crowd. Just hours earlier, the assembly had passed an inspiring new policy statement on Safe, Just, and Equitable Schools, which further asserts NEA’s dedication to forging a better future for all students.
RA Delegates Vote to Continue Critical Work on Safety, Equity and Justice
The delegates approved the policy statement in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, as students, educators, and communities face politicians and institutions that are taking away freedoms and rights, brushing off a growing gun violence epidemic, attempting to divide communities by race and place, and increasing restrictions on what educators can teach and what students can learn.
The new NEA policy statement continues to build on the ongoing racial and social justice work of the association. In 2021, RA delegates approved a measure, NBI-A, that established a task force to identify criteria for safe, just, and equitable schools. Over the course of a year, the task force met to research, gather evidence, and consult with educators and experts. The work involved engaging with national partners, state and local affiliates, racial justice advocates, allies, and community activists. NEA’s new policy statement is the result of that work and is guided by four core principles:
- Adopt a restorative justice philosophy to create a school climate that rejects the criminalization and policing of students.
- Provide training and support for culturally competent instruction.
- Develop and implement plans to end disparities in disciplinary and behavioral practices.
- Create a community-centered school environment to foster safe, positive environments and engage all members of the public school.
Educators are Essential to Children’s Future and the Future of American Democracy
In an electrifying address, Vice President Kamala Harris brought down the house when she told delegates that educators are essential to our democracy.
“The president and I are counting on you to help us move forward as a nation, just as NEA has done throughout its history,” Harris said. The vice president recounted key moments in NEA advocacy, such as when the organization protected Black teachers in school districts that defied desegregation in the 1950s; when NEA led the charge to lower the voting age to 18, in 1971; and when, in 2012, NEA helped to pass DACA, the law that protects undocumented learners.
She said she realizes educators will face many challenges when they return to schools next year, and it may feel like they are the only ones who see what’s at stake. But she urged them to remember that the fight toward progress is not linear.
“You will go back and often be in a situation where it … feels like you might be the only one who sees what you’re seeing and understands what’s at stake. But let’s remember moments like this … and that the fight toward progress, by its very nature, is not linear,” Harris said. “Do not despair. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not throw up your hands when it is a time to roll up our sleeves.”
I Still Have Hope
The 2022 Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell is ready to roll up his sleeves. He has hope for what’s to come because he has faith in everything teachers embody.
“The foundation of this country and the greatness of this country begins with a teacher,” Russell said in his address to the RA. “Teachers are hope personified.”
Russell said he, like so many others, felt sad and depressed after a rash of horrific mass shootings, including the tragic loss of innocent lives in Uvalde, Texas. He was left wondering: How can we protect our students and teachers?
But he refused to remain in a state of despair. Inspired by the words on a T-shirt a friend gave him, he shared those same words in a social media post: “I still have hope.”
“I have hope in the millions of students that are courageous and bright and that will create a better world. I have hope in the millions of educators who provide love and normalcy to an unkind world. I have hope in the transformative power of education that can move the needle towards equity and justice.”
NEA’s highest honor goes to Dolly Parton for her work in early childhood literacy.
Policy includes guiding principles and call to action to help all students thrive and succeed.
Educators celebrate champions of justice, inclusion, and academic freedom.
“As union members and leaders, we have the power to fight for the professional respect that all educators want and deserve,” says the Illinois education support professional.