Education International
Education International

United States: three women to lead NEA

published 5 July 2014 updated 11 July 2014

The National Education Association (NEA) has elected a new leadership during its 93rd Representative Assembly in Denver, Colorado. Women with Latino and African American backgrounds hold the three top positions.

Students in the USA will have an historic new team advocating for their interests and the empowerment of the educators dedicated to their success this coming school year.   Delegates attending the National Education Association’s 152nd Annual Meeting and 93rd Representative Assembly, meeting this week in Denver, elected new officers and executive committee members to lead the nation’s largest union, representing nearly 3 million educators.

Lily Eskelsen García, a former Utah Teacher of the Year who started her 20-year career in education as a lunch lady before becoming an elementary teacher who worked with homeless children, was elected to head NEA, a position she takes over from former president Dennis van Roekel. Eskelsen García previously served two three-year terms as NEA vice president and was named by President Obama to serve as a commissioner on the White House Commission on Education Excellence for Hispanics.  An outspoken advocate for preserving and promoting public education for every student, she has been a vocal critic of high stakes testing and other policies that detract from student learning and exacerbate inequity in our education system.

“We must measure what matters and put students’ needs at the center of the system once again. We can no longer allow politicians who have never stepped into a classroom define what it means to teach and learn,” said Eskelsen García. “At a time when nearly 50 percent of public school children live in low-income families, our country must refocus its priorities on the needs of the whole child and bridge the gaps that have only grown over the last decade. We know what is at stake, and it is why we are educators. It is why we are fearless and why we will not be silent.”

Delegates also elected Rebecca S. “Becky” Pringle, a middle school physical science teacher from Harrisburg, Pa., as NEA vice president. Pringle, now one of the highest-ranking African-American female leaders in the labour movement, has served since 2008 as NEA secretary-treasurer.

Rounding out the top three NEA leadership positions and making NEA the first major union to be led by three women of colour, Princess Moss was elected secretary-treasurer.