National Education Association (NEA): Overview, Membership Requirements & Activism

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  • 0:03 National Education Association
  • 1:25 Mission & Values
  • 4:55 Membership
  • 5:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

The National Education Association (NEA) is a major force in the world of American education. Watch this lesson to find out what the NEA is, what it does, what its core values are, who can become a member, and how to join.

National Education Association

Imagine that you're going to your very first job as a teacher. You're very excited until you see the school. It's one room with a dirt floor. The ceiling and walls have cracks in them, and every time it rains, water pours in. When it's cold, wind blows through. You don't get a salary, just room and board. And shortly after arriving, you find out that you aren't supposed to teach all the children in the area, only some of the more privileged ones. The others will remain uneducated.

That was the situation for many teachers in the middle of the 19th century in America. Some states had education associations that fought for better conditions for students, teachers, and schools but many did not. And the quality of education, as well as how many students received it, varied widely from place to place.

In 1857, though, all that changed. 43 educators met in Philadelphia to form the National Teachers Association, which would later be renamed the National Education Association, also called the NEA, the largest professional organization in the United States representing educators from all over America. Let's look closer at the NEA, including its mission and core values, and membership requirements.

Mission & Values

So, what, exactly, is the point of the NEA? Is it just to get teachers and other educational professionals together to drink tea and talk about how great education is? No! Remember when you went to teach and you realized how terrible the conditions were? The school was falling apart, you weren't paid any money, and you were limited in which children you could teach. Not good!

The mission of the NEA is 'to advocate for educational professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed.' What does this mean?

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