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Social Justice Activist Award

Social Justice Begins Here

Every day educators take extraordinary action to show leadership on social justice issues in and out of the classroom.

Members of the National Education Association have a long and proud history of social justice activism. Education advocacy and social justice advocacy go hand in hand, as an increasingly diverse kaleidoscope of students and educators must feel welcome in our public schools.

The 2016 social justice activist 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.

This was an unprecedented year in terms of NEA educator social justice activism! From a field of impressive nominations we present to you the finalists for the 2016 Social Justice Activist of the Year Award. Read their inspiring biographies below:

Voting ended at midnight, May 31

Here are the Nominees:

Hugo Arreola, AZ

Hugo Arreola, a Phoenix, Arizona technology educator, takes his own experience as a Dreamer to drive change for Dreamer students. He advocates for high school students from underserved communities so that they have equal opportunities and resources. He is also deeply engaged in community outreach and advocacy for Dreamer students and their families to ensuring that students have the information they need to apply for Deferred Action and to achieve the American Dream.
Q and A: Get to Know Hugo

Amanda Kail, TN

Amanda Kail is an English Language Learner teacher in Nashville. She joined with other educators to launch the Coalition Advocating for Public Education (CAPE). CAPE brought together state and local pro public education groups to push them to create visible actions and events with educators as advocacy leaders in the movement. Since its inception, CAPE has mobilized educators to advocate before state and local decision makers. Through a strategic coalition between CAPE and local justice organizations, a school board committee was created dedicated to ending the school to prison pipeline. Amanda serves as a teacher representative to that committee.
Q and A: Get to Know Amanda 

Bryan Proffitt, NC

Bryan Proffitt is President of the Durham Educators Association and a founder of Organize 2020, a social justice caucus of NCAE as a way to activate educators around the central understanding that justice and equality for all students is essential for winning the schools we all deserve. To achieve this Bryan has organized pro-public education Walk-Ins and rallies, lead efforts to dismantle racism in schools and communities, including supporting students organizing a Black Out protest at their school that mobilized and educated hundreds of their classmates. In addition, to supporting social justice action, Bryan is focused developing social justice leaders within the union and increasing community organizing to further common social justice campaigns.
Q and A: Get to Know Bryan

Union City Educators (Ivan Viray Santos, Joe Ku’e Angeles, Tina Bobadilla)

As members of New Haven Pilipino American Society for Education (PASE), these educators are instrumental in leading a decade long movement to rename a school after Filipino American Labor Leaders –the first time a public school in the U.S. is named after Filipino American heroes. By organizing other community groups and inspiring students to join the movement and become organizers themselves, they ensured unified voice and message. As activists, they have been instrumental in bringing Filipino heritage into the schools through ethnic studies curriculum, student and community engagement, and activism.
Q and A: Get to Know Ivan, Joe, and Tina

Bianca Zachery, MO

Bianca Zachary, as president of the National Education Association Student Chapter at the University of Missouri, has worked to make racial justice a reality in the Mizzou campus. Bianca joined the protests to make the administration responsive to the racist actions that were rampant on campus. It was the protests at Mizzou that engaged the football team to take action and then inspired campus actions around the country. The University of Missouri President and Chancellor resigned as a result of the student actions and the university named an interim president who was sensitive to the changes the students were demanding and needed to be made.
Q and A: Get to Know Bianca

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OPPORTUNITY: If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. Let's ensure all students have more one-on-one attention, inviting classrooms, and a well-rounded curriculum. Watch the video. Take the pledge.