National education association

DEFINITION

America's oldest and largest organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 in Philadelphia and now headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NEA has over 2.2 million members who work at every level of education, from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA [not to be confused with the National Endowment for the Arts] has affiliates in every state as well as in over 13,000 local communities across the United States. Anyone who works for a public school district, a college or university, or any other public institution devoted primarily to education is eligible to join NEA. There are special membership categories for retired educators and college students studying to become teachers. NEA members nationwide set Association policy, most notably through an annual Representative Assembly held every July. NEA members at the state and local level elect the more than 9,000 RA delegates, who, in turn, elect NEA's top officers, debate issues, and set NEA policy. NEA is a volunteer-based organization supported by a network of staff at the local, state, and national level. At the local level, NEA affiliates are active in a wide variety of activities, everything from conducting professional workshops on discipline and other issues that affect faculty and school support staff to bargaining contracts for school district employees. At the state level, NEA affiliate activities are equally wide-ranging. NEA state affiliates, for instance, regularly lobby legislators for the resources schools need, campaign for higher professional standards for the teaching profession, and file legal actions to protect academic freedom. At the national level, NEA's work ranges from coordinating innovative projects to restructure how learning takes place to fighting congressional attempts to privatize public education.Also see American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a union with which the NEA may merge in 1998.

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