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Partner Spotlight: National Education Association

May 25, 2016

This month, we spoke to Sonia Jasso Yilmaz, senior policy analyst at the National Education Association (NEA) about NEA's mission and how it connects with the goals of community schools. In addition, we learn about the 2016 NEA Representative Assembly and how it will develop the NEA’s platform in the coming year. 

1. Can you explain the overall mission of the NEA? 

The members of the National Education Association of the United States are the voice of education professionals. Our work is fundamental to the nation, and we accept the profound trust placed in us.

Our Vision
Our vision is a great public school for every student.

Our Mission
Our mission is to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.
Our Core Values
These principles guide our work and define our mission:

Equal Opportunity

We believe public education is the gateway to opportunity. All students have the human and civil right to a quality public education that develops their potential, independence, and character.

A Just Society

We believe public education is vital to building respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual in our diverse society.


We believe public education is the cornerstone of our republic. Public education provides individuals with the skills to be involved, informed, and engaged in our representative democracy.


We believe that the expertise and judgment of education professionals are critical to student success. We maintain the highest professional standards, and we expect the status, compensation, and respect due all professionals.

We believe partnerships with parents, families, communities, and other stakeholders are essential to quality public education and student success.

Collective Action

We believe individuals are strengthened when they work together for the common good. As education professionals, we improve both our professional status and the quality of public education when we unite and advocate collectively.
2. What milestones has NEA already reached or is currently moving towards?
With our work and advocacy in the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), we can now move away from the testing frenzy and towards an education for students that attends to the individual needs of students.  Our members are now focused on finding the opportunities within the law to make sure that students receive the support and services that we all fought for.  The new legislation creates a full service community schools program to address health, nutrition, and other needs that can undermine student learning. The Community Schools strategy, when implemented with fidelity, is a powerful and positive response to quick fix, magic bullet education reforms. More info: NEA is currently collaborating with partners and affiliates to develop materials to support community school campaigns. Website

3. How do NEA’s principles tie into the Community School’s principles and philosophy? How do you see your work fitting into ours?
NEA believes our principles are totally compatible with Community School’s principles and philosophy. NEA’s members and leaders believe Community Schools address and support the needs of the whole child, and wholly support the Full Service Community Schools Strategy. This is exemplified at the highest levels of leadership and through the grassroots work at the local association level. NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia was the opening plenary speaker and moderated a panel focusing on Learning within the Community Schools Model at the 2016 Coalition of Community Schools Conference (CCS), held April 6-8, 2016 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Collaborative work by several NEA Departments and Centers, including that of the Center for Organizing, Center for Advocacy and Outreach and the Priority Schools Department are moving this strategy forward as one method to improve schools and provide for students and their families the resources and supports they need.  

4. What are some exciting things coming up for NEA (i.e., events, publications)?  
The 2016 NEA Representative Assembly (RA) will be held July 4th to 7th in Washington, DC and is the top decision-making body for the nearly 3 million-member NEA, and sets Association policy for the coming year.  The NEA RA is the world’s Largest Democratic Deliberative Assembly. The theme is:  Unite. Inspire. Lead! At this years RA we will be recognizing The 2016 social justice activist of the year and an award will be presented to the exceptional effort that demonstrates the ability to lead, organize and engage educators, parents, and the community to advocate on social justice issues that impact the lives of students, fellow educators and the communities they serve.
5. Finally, what is the most exciting thing about working at the NEA? 
Our leaders and members are driving initiatives with our partners to make sure that all students realize the promise of America.  NEA has been doing that since 1857.  We have a long history of fighting for social justice issues and as staff we are proud to support that work.  We know that through our work, students have breakfast programs, quality services are delivered to students and their families, educators have the supports they need to provide the best education, and students have access to Great Public Schools.  


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