VEA's Proud History
On December 29, 1863, the Educational Association of Virginia was founded at a statewide meeting held in the basement of the First Baptist Church in Petersburg. Its mission: “By all suitable means, to promote the educational welfare of Virginia and of the whole country.” Several name changes later, the Virginia State Teachers Association in 1925 formally became the Virginia Education Association. Among the early VEA’s accomplishments: Fostering sound instructional practices, boosting passage of a statewide minimum salary schedule, and supporting a sound retirement system for teachers.
Segregated public schooling persisted in Virginia until well into the 1960s. During that decade, VEA and the Commonwealth’s all-black teacher organization, the Virginia Teachers Association (VTA), began to discuss the possibility of merging the two organizations. Serious consideration of a merger increased after the merger of the nationally affiliated organizations—the National Education Association and the American Teachers Association—in 1966. VEA and VTA officially merged in 1967. The merged VEA has played a key role in advocating for educational equity in Virginia, and three African-Americans have been elected president: Mary Hatwood Futrell (1976-78), Cheri James (1996-2000), and Princess Moss (2005-2008).
In 1973, VEA members voted to unify with the National Education Association, thereby officially bringing together local, state, and the national organization for the betterment of children and public education. Among the victories that followed were successful campaigns to significantly increase the state’s level of public school funding, enhancements to the teacher retirement system, and legal victories preventing a school board from firing a teacher who became pregnant. More recent successes have included the passage of legislation ensuring a grievance procedure for education support professionals and state funding for bonuses to be given to teachers achieving national board certification.
During the 1990s and continuing to the present time, VEA has continued to be a major force for the betterment of public education, advocating for and winning significant state funding increases for schools, boosting instructional support for teachers, and securing adequate health insurance for retired teachers.