A Call to Organize
In 1863, as Virginia and the nation were locked in the midst of Civil War, a small group of Virginia educators concerned with the education of future sons and daughters of Virginia called for a conference in Petersburg on December 29th of that year. Their aims, as expressed in their “Call to Organize” were foremost practical; they wanted access to school books and a means to share information, such as a written journal. To realize their aims, the organizers wrote, “It may be deemed expedient to organize a permanent State Educational Association.”
The organization they founded became, after several name changes, the Virginia Education Association.
What follows is a summary of selected milestones in the Association’s history.
The founding convention of the Educational Association of Virginia is held at Petersburg.
The first regular convention of the Association is held in Charlottesville.
The Association calls for the creation of a State Department of Education and organized teacher institutes.
The Association creates The Educational Journal of Virginia, which published until 1892.
Public schools are established by General Assembly, with Dr. William H. Ruffner as first State Superintendent of Schools.
“Lady teachers” are permitted to become associate members without payment of dues, no vote, no office, no participation in public discussions, but allowed to serve on committees.
First teacher institutes were held—one each summer for white teachers and one for black teachers. Later, multiple institutes are held across the state.
First normal schools established for teacher training—for whites, Farmville State Teachers Colleges; for blacks, the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute in Petersburg.
Last meeting of the Educational Association of Virginia is held in Charlottesville.
A new statewide organization, the First Virginia Teachers Reading Association, is formed at the Normal Institute held at Wytheville.
The Virginia Teachers Reading Circle becomes the Virginia State Negro Teachers Association (VSNTA).
Organizational meeting of the Virginia State Teachers Association is held at the YMCA in Lynchburg.
Organizational meeting of the State Educational Association is held in Bedford.
Last issue of The Educational Journal of Virginia is published.
The Virginia School Journal, the official organ of the State Department of Education, begins publication.
Effort is made to establish a “pay day” for teachers in every school district.
The Virginia Teachers Cooperative League is formed. This is the continuing organization that becomes the Virginia Education Association.
The name becomes the Virginia State Teachers Association.
The Association has 67 local associations, with reported membership of 2,490.
Association establishes a Legislative Committee that continues to function today. It is responsible for passage of compulsory education law, removing limitation on local taxes, establishing county unit system of schools, creating a teachers' retirement system, winning continuing contracts, sick leave, and more.
State Supt. J. D. Eggleston calls a general conference in Richmond to include the Virginia State Teachers Association, the Trustees (school boards), the Superintendents, and the Cooperative Education Association (forerunner of the PTA)…the beginning of the annual Virginia Educational Conferences.
Teacher pension plan is established.
The School Improvement League is created to lobby for greater resources for black schools.
Virginia Journal of Education publishes first edition.
U.S. President William Howard Taft addresses VEA convention in Richmond.
William Jennings Bryan addresses VEA convention in Lynchburg.
First Code of Ethics is adopted.
Influenza outbreak causes convention to be cancelled.
VEA obtains ownership of the Virginia Journal of Education, transferring it from the State Department of Education.
VEA employs first full-time Executive Secretary; Dr. William T. Sanger assumes duties September 1.
Virginia Teachers Association convention authorizes the publication of the Teachers Bulletin.
The current name, the Virginia Education Association, is adopted.
Note: The new VEA embraced and included in its structure several formerly independent statewide organizations, including the superintendents, school boards, and the Cooperative Education Association, later the Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, and the Student Cooperative Association. The Virginia School Boards Association remained a VEA Department until 1957. The Virginia Association of School Administrators name was adopted by the superintendents in 1958, but they remained connected to VEA until 1973.
Cornelia Adair becomes first Virginian to be elected as president of NEA.
VSNTA affiliates with the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools, later known as the American Teachers Association.
The VSNTA drops Negro from name, becoming the Virginia State Teachers Association (VSTA). During the 1940s the word State was dropped from the name, creating the Virginia Teachers Association as the name that continues until merger in 1967.
VEA and UVA establish the Preventorium (hospital at reduced cost) for teachers.
VEA becomes incorporated.
NAACP files suit in the name of Aline Black, a teacher in the Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, seeking equal pay for black teachers.
Dr. Francis S. Chase becomes VEA Executive Secretary on Aug. 16, 1939, following death of Dr. Heatwole.
U.S. Supreme Court orders that salaries of white and black teachers of equal training and qualifications be equalized.
VEA’s proposed retirement law is adopted by General Assembly.
VTA hires first full-time executive secretary, J. Rupert Picott, who serves until merger in 1967.
Henry G. Ellis is appointed VEA Executive Secretary-Editor, upon resignation of Dr. Chase.
Dr. Robert Williams becomes Executive Secretary-Editor, upon resignation of Mr. Ellis.
General Assembly adopts a statewide sick leave plan for teachers.
General Assembly takes first step to create a statewide salary schedule for teachers.
Separate delegations representing white and black teachers attend NEA conventions. During this period, NEA rules require the separate delegates to meet, sit, and vote together.
VEA moves into current headquarters building at 116 South 3rd Street in Richmond.
Supreme Court declares racial segregation of schools unconstitutional.
Sixty-three black teachers are fired by the Prince Edward schools to evade compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to integrate schools. NEA and VTA work together to find them jobs and to provide food and financial support for the children turned away from public schools.
VEA holds first instructional conference (Science in the Secondary Schools).
Tort (liability) insurance is first provided with VEA membership.
VEA locals are authorized to admit members without regard to race.
The VTA proposes the formation of one major professional association of all teachers in Virginia.
VEA requires members to have a bachelor’s degree. Non-degree educators may hold Associate membership.
VEA amends constitution providing that all members of local affiliates, regardless of race, are eligible for membership.
VEA and VTA form a joint committee to consider merger.
The VEA and the VTA, which represented black teachers, merge.
VEA hires first black professional staff member—Fitz Turner, principal of James Solomon Russell High School in Lawrenceville, and VTA president at the time of unification.
VEA names first consultant-in-residence, Dr. Ethel Thompson, to focus on assisting school divisions in implementing kindergarten programs.
Delegates vote to require all local Associations to merge black and white locals by September 1969; 13 localities had separate locals at that time.
VEA opens four regional offices—Roanoke, Richmond, Norfolk, Reston—to provide field service support to locals and members.
General Assembly adopts Continuing Contract law, which establishes uniform employment practices, delineating causes for teacher dismissal, and providing security for teachers after a three-year probationary period. It provided for a three-year probationary period for all existing teachers as well as those hired after its enactment. The first “tenured” teachers entered their fourth year of employment in school year 1973.
VEA delegates call for passage of legislation to enact a Professional Negotiations Law.
Five black educators elected to serve on the VEA Board of Directors, part of the merger agreement.
VEA conducts first professional negotiations workshops, appoints a Professional Negotiations Committee.
VEA doubles tort (liability) insurance to $100,000.
Delegates vote to close the VEA Preventorium by end of February 1970.
Barbara B. Tinsley, a science teacher from Richmond, is first black educator to run for VEA president.
VEA celebrates 100th anniversary of public schools with a billboard public service campaign.
VEA achieves increase in retirement multiplier from 1 3/8th % to 1 ½ %, and a Cost of Living increase. Also life insurance was expanded from age 50 to age 65 at 100% of annual salary, and 50% after age 65.
VEA wins injunction to prevent enforcement of Attorney General Andrew P. Miller’s ruling that a new conflict of interest law would prevent employment in the same school division of husbands and wives.
VEA Delegates at the NEA RA elect first black, Thomas J. Womack, to represent VEA on NEA Board of Directors, as a result of NEA’s ruling that a merged state is entitled to a black director.
Board creates the VEA Defense Fund to meet costs of representing Professional Rights and Responsibility cases.
Arlington EA becomes the first to require unified dues, providing that members must join the local, state and national associations.
Fairfax ratifies its first two-year agreement.
Don Rapier becomes first full-time VEA president.
First meeting of educators to create the VEA Political Action Committee for Education is held in March.
VEA creates membership category for teacher aides and school secretaries.
Chesterfield teacher Mrs. Susan Cohen wins a court ruling that she could not be forced to resign her position because of her pregnancy. Decision was later overruled by US District Court in Richmond, but was eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
VEA members, in a statewide vote, defeat a proposal to require unified membership.
Dr. Robert F. Williams retires as VEA Executive Secretary; David L. Johnson is employed as VEA Executive Secretary on July 1.
VEA-PAC issues first endorsement of a candidate for Governor, Henry E. Howell Jr.
VEA members, in a statewide referendum, approve unification with NEA, requiring that members belong to local, state, and national associations.
Virginia Association of School Administrators severs ties with VEA.
Mary Hatwood, Alexandria high school teacher, becomes the first black president-elect of VEA. Her term begins in 1976.
VEA Delegate Assembly creates the UniServ program, providing professional staff located throughout the state to assist local Associations and members.
VEA wins legislation that requires greater funding for the retirement system to put it on a sound funding basis.
VEA wins increase in retirement benefits and a cost-of-living increase.
VEA joins the Virginia Coalition of Public Employees to support passage of collective bargaining legislation.
Association wins a statewide class action suit providing for back pay for teachers forced to leave their jobs because they were pregnant.
VEA doubles coverage of liability insurance from $100,000 to $200,000.
VEA Minority Concerns Caucus holds first Human Rights Awards Dinner and creates the Fitz Turner Award.
VEA wins passage of a law to allow a tenured teacher who changes school districts to serve only a one-year probationary period until achieving tenured status in the new district.
Virginia Supreme Court halts negotiations for public employees, ruling that school districts do not have authority to negotiate with Associations representing school employees.
More than 7,000 teachers and public employees rally in Richmond on February 4, opposing proposed cuts in education funding, protecting retirement, and supporting passage of a statewide collective bargaining law.
VEA wins automatic cost-of-living raises for retirees—providing for up to 3%, plus one-half of the increase between three and seven percent, for an effective maximum increase of 5%.
VEA Delegate Assembly creates the Fitz Turner Commission for Human Relations.
Virginia Supreme Court rules that arbitration in the grievance process cannot be dictated to school boards by the state board of education. School boards now argue that continuing contracts also are unconstitutional.
VEA wins law that makes it clear that, unless they are notified in writing by April 15, teachers are employed for the following year.
VEA wins an impartial panel to hear disputes arising from dismissal of tenured teachers to advise school boards on the case.
Delegate Assembly approves special dues assessment to support public relations activities.
Won law that requires school boards provide teachers with a duty-free lunch beginning in 1980-81.
VEA successfully opposes “cap plan” that would have reduced retirement benefits.
Delegate Assembly votes to bring the UniServ program under state administration, but delayed its implementation until 1981.
Delegates vote to no longer provide bargaining assistance to members working in the private sector, in order to avoid requirements of the federal Landrum-Griffin Act that would have precluded minority representation guarantees. VEA represented 70 members at a single private college.
Former VEA President Mary Hatwood-Futrell is elected secretary-treasurer of the NEA.
School boards hone the practice of denying the grievability of teacher concerns, thus forcing them to go to court for a ruling on whether a grievance should be heard.
VEA Delegate Assembly amends constitution to provide for membership for school support personnel in addition to teacher aides and secretaries who already were allowed membership.
VEA raises liability insurance coverage to $1 million.
Circuit Court judge rules that agreement by the Richmond School District to provide payroll deduction for Association dues is legal.
VEA wins 20% increase in school funding with stipulation that the bulk of the new funds be used to increase teacher salaries, with the admonition that “each locality shall endeavor to increase classroom teacher salaries by 10 percent each year of the biennium.” (Only 49% of school divisions approved a 10% raise for 1982-83 and less than 17% provided a 9.7% raise in 1983-84.)
Delegates extend terms for president and vice president from one to two years, allowing to serve two consecutive terms.
VEA supports a suit by member Vernelle M. Lipscome seeking a judgment of libel against a reporter and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In 1983, jury awards Lipscome $1,045,000 in damages. Award is later reduced to $145,000.
Mary Hatwood Futrell is elected NEA president.
VEA wins an 18.5% increase in state funding for schools.
Brenda Cloyd is elected to her third term of office, making her the longest serving president in VEA history—from 1982-83 through 1986-87.
Delegate Assembly and VEA-PAC board adopt changes to designate VEA President as chair of VEA-PAC, and VEA Vice President as vice-chair of VEA-PAC, to ensure that the two separate entities share similar goals.
Outgoing Governor Robb recommends budget that increases state funds for schools by 20%, and that requires school divisions provide teachers with a 10% raise in 1986-87 school year or suffer loss of funds in the following school year. Some superintendents threaten to reduce teaching staff if they are forced to raise salaries.
Delegate Assembly creates a standing committee for Education Support Personnel.
Under leadership of Mary Hatwood Futrell, NEA votes to propose and support a national standards board for teacher certification.
VEA wins passage of legislation allowing full retirement at age 55 (reduced from age 60) with 30 years experience.
VEA successfully lobbies to reduce retirement age from 60 to 55 years.
VEA seeks to change the state song from Carry Me Back to Old Virginny: “The current state song of Virginia does not accurately reflect the heritage of all Virginia citizens and should be changed.”
Delegates again call for creation of a Professional Standards Board, “composed of a majority of practicing classroom teachers to establish standards of entry to the teaching professional and operating with the autonomy to make those standards meaningful.” Would replace Virginia’s Teacher Education Advisory Board, which was established in 1980. (Similar legislation proposed by VEA from 1970-1981.)
$1 million renovation of historic headquarters building is completed.
VEA calls for statewide and state-funded health insurance; legislation passes to allow school divisions to buy into state plan.
VEA supports legislation to ban corporal punishment. Passes.
VEA wins grievance procedure for school classified employees.
VEA wins COLA increases for all retirees, beginning in the second year after retirement. Formerly was only for those over age 60.
VEA wins passage of legislation allowing localities to decide whether to elect school boards.
VEA-Retired elects its first representative on the VEA Board of Directors, Beth Nelson.
VEA wins passage of an autonomous professional standards board on a 24-16 Senate and a 63-36 House vote, only to have it vetoed by newly elected Governor George Allen. VEA had been seeking passage of such legislation since 1967.
VEA wins legislation that removes the VRS from direct control by the Governor.
VEA wins legislation that gives teachers on continuing contracts preference over those on annual contracts if reduction in force is necessary—but bill is vetoed by Gov Allen.
VEA Retired holds its first statewide conference.
VEA defeats legislation that would have extended probationary period before a teacher receives a continuing contract from the current three to five years.
VEA member Richard Wormeli of Fairfax becomes Virginia’s first teacher to achieve national certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.
VEA wins state funding ($75,000) to assist Virginia teachers to achieve National Board Certification.
VEA wins retiree health credits of $1.50 per month per year of services, up to a max of $45.
VEA wins passage of legislation to place a constitutional amend on the ballot to create VRS as a Trust, to “ensure that the assets of the VRS remain separate from all other funds of the Commonwealth, that the fund be administered in the interests of the members and that benefits will be funded using methods consistent with sound actuarial principles.”
Voters approve constitutional amendment to establish the VRS as a trust and that prevent raiding the retirement fund.
Richmond teacher Cheri James becomes VEA’s second black president.
VEA wins guarantees that charter school teachers will be licensed and will be employees of the local school board, also that school boards have the authority to approve charters.
VEA wins legislation requiring that school boards provide contracts for educational support employees, but bill is vetoed by Governor Allen.
VEA launches its first web site, http://www.veaweteach.org.
VEA wins increase in the retiree health care credit from $1.50 to $2.50 per month per year of service and the monthly maximum from $45 to $75.
VEA helps defeat a proposal to provide a $2,500 tax credit for children in private schools.
VEA wins state-funded stipends for teachers who achieve National Board Certification ($5,000 for first year and $2,500 for subsequent years), pending annual state funding.
VEA board votes to support creation of the Moton Civil Rights Museum in Farmville.
VEA Executive Director David Johnson retires; is replaced by Jerry Caruthers.
VEA wins mandate of one elementary school counselor for every 500 students.
VEA launches Brighter Futures Campaign for improved school funding.
VEA launches living wage campaigns to improve salaries of Education Support Personnel.
VEA wins legislation that guarantees that teachers must be paid within the first month of employment.
Princess Moss, a Louisa County music teacher, becomes VEA’s third black president.
Three years of lobbying for improved school funding through the Brighter School Campaign results in a record $1.5 billion increase in state funding for schools.
VEA member Philip Forgit, elementary teacher in Williamsburg, becomes the first Virginian to win the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence.
VEA wins legislation, sought by school bus drivers, to increase bus speed and improve safety on super highways.
Jerry Caruthers resigns as VEA Executive Director to assume similar position in Oregon; Robert Whitehead becomes new Executive Director.
VEA launches statewide radio ads and media tours to promote increasing teacher salaries.
VEA launches new website, http://www.veanea.org, and initiates the electronic newsletter VEA e-source.
VEA wins an increase in the retiree health care credit from $2.50 to $4 per month per year of service and removes the $75 monthly cap.
The VEA delegation leads a memorial to the slain students at Virginia Tech during the annual NEA Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C.
VEA launches a successful effort to prevent state funding cuts for schools through electronic media, special website, banner ads on news media websites and social media outlets, and billboards in Richmond.
Philip Forgit is named VEA Executive Director, replacing Robert Whitehead.
VEA locals successfully lobby nearly all school divisions to pay 5% of salary contribution to VRS for new employees, after legislature changes law requiring the contribution by new employees.
Adding to its electronic communications strategy, VEA launches a social media page on Facebook, and assists local Associations in the creation of blogs.
VEA defeats efforts by Governor McDonnell to require all school employees to pay 5% of their salary toward retirement and end the long-standing practice (since the 1980s) of the employer paying the 5% for the employees.