Since the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law in 2015, much has changed in the landscape of public education and within the affiliates of the National Education Association (NEA). For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to our schools, our educators, and our students, exacerbating racial and social inequities and placing a disproportionate burden on our most vulnerable communities throughout the country.
In 2019, the NEA created the Educator Voice Academies (EVAs) to help build an understanding of opportunities within ESSA and the power of lifting and amplifying educator voices for state and local affiliate members. This effort was led by NEA Education Policy and Practice in partnership with NEA’s Center for Organizing, Center for Social Justice, Center for Advocacy, Center for Great Public Schools, and Center for Governance. The first cycle featured in-person learning opportunities that brought state and local teams together to brainstorm, collaborate, and create plans of action to help continue this work in their school communities.
After the success of the initial Educator Voice Academies, the NEA collectively and collaboratively sought to continue moving this work forward to leverage the voices of our members as partners in delivering equitable opportunities for all students across race, ZIP code, background, and ability. These efforts move us into the next phase of our work: highlighting educator-created plans to improve public education focused on specific priority issues. In the upcoming year, each Educator Voice Academy virtual session will serve as an opportunity for affiliate teams to investigate an issue of inequity and create action plans to address this issue to ensure safe, just, and equitable learning environments for all students.
OEA is currently building teams of members for each of the three Educator Voice Academies indicated below. Applications can be submitted using the form linked on this page. Each Educator Voice Academy team will be coordinated by a representative from OEA governance as well as an OEA staff person. NEA will be convening a national meeting of all teams from each focus area on the dates indicated below. Beyond that initial meeting, it will be up to the teams as to how often they would like to meet to complete their work. Staff from both OEA and NEA will be available throughout the process to provide support.
Academy Focus Areas
OEA members will be participating in academies in the following three focus areas:
- Teacher Recruitment – Initial Convening on Saturday, January 22, 2022
- Social & Emotional Learning – Initial Convening on Saturday, February 26, 2022
- Safe and Just Schools – Initial Convening on Saturday, May 21, 2022