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Our Proud History. Since 1857 NEA has led the crusade for the rights of all educators and children. NEA believes every student in America, regardless of family income or place of residence, deserves a quality education. .

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Our Proud History

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Our Proud History

Since 1857 NEA has led the crusade for the rights of all educators and children

NEA believes every student in America, regardless of family income or place of residence, deserves a quality education.

Dedicated Association members teach, drive, feed, counsel, nurse—and inspire.


It has been a battle all along the way, so let’s look at some of the struggles that got us from there to here…

Ironically, even though the NEA had been open to minority educators from day one, women were barred from joining.

This changed at the end of the Civil War and the Association was open to “all persons,” not just “gentlemen.”

VEA’s first meeting was at the First Baptist Church in Petersburg, VA’s 2nd largest city.

Attendees traveled by rail, horse and buggy and on foot through Civil War torn VA.

Founding president: Col. Lee Powell of Winchester was called into active duty for the Confederacy so the first term was completed by

Rev. Dr. John Atkinson, President of

Hampden Sydney College

VA’s all-black teacher organization formed in Lynchburg at the Peabody Institute, a training school for African American teachers.

1887: Founding President of the Virginia Reading Circle, (later known as VTA)

James Hugo Johnston, President of Virginia State University

VTA’s 2nd president was a female

Rosa Dixon Bowser

Elementary teacher in Richmond’s public schools for 39 years; first African American female to teach in Richmond public schools.

A plaque in the VEA conference room lists all presidents of both VEA and VTA dating back to 1863


NEA’s first legislative victory: establishing the Department of Education.

A native of Franklin County, VA, Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, addresses the 1884 NEA convention.

  • At the turn of the century, teachers were still struggling with perennial issues:

  • Salaries remained under $50 a month

  • Women were still paid less than men

  • the Average Class Size was 60

A sweatshop in neighboring NC.

The 1905 National Convention was dedicated to ending child labor.


VEA worked with the Virginia General Assembly to create the pension plan that is now called VRS—the first of its kind in the country.

1910Ella Flagg Young NEA’s first female president, a full decade before women gained the right to vote..

Dr. Young was America’s first female superintendent

1929The U.S. stock market crashed forcing some schools to close. In those that remained open, the teachers copied textbooks by longhand.NEA gave our schools voice.

World War II: NEA coordinated the rationing of staples and promoted the sale of Defense Savings Stamps. They also lobbied for special funding for public schools near military bases.

NEA lobbied strongly for the G.I. Bill of Rights to help returning soldiers continue their education.

Walking tall. The nation watched as six-year-old Ruby Bridges integrated a Louisiana school under the protection of U.S. Marshals.

VEA and VTA merged January 1, 1967.

Until 1971 in Virginia, a

pregnant teacher had to

resign “before she began

to show.”

VEA/NEA won the fight to overrule mandatory leave for expectant teachers in Chesterfield, VA.

1973 VEA wins fair grievance procedure for teachers and in

2009 for ESP’s

Mary Hatwood Futrell

born in Altavista and taught in Alexandria 1960-1976,

served as

VEA President from 1976-78 NEA President from 1983-89.

Dr. Futrell was influential in the formation of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

2001 VEA’s Brighter Futures Campaign

Brought $1.5 Billion to VA Schools

2009VEA wins planning time for elementary teachers

after 36 years…

Our Vision

A great public school for every child in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Our Mission

The mission of the Virginia Education Association is to unite our members and local communities across the Commonwealth in fulfilling the promise of a high quality public education that successfully prepares every single student to realize his or her full potential. We believe this can be accomplished by advocating for students, education professionals, and support professionals.

New member w/ building rep in Chesterfield County

Equal Opportunity.

A Just Society.




Collective Action

Repair the Damage Rally in Richmond, 2011

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Your Association work can help.

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