Our Program

For a PDF of our program, please click here.

1. Build Our Locals

Locals are the lifeblood of our organization, and we should make a home in every building and bus lot,
in every district and corner of the state. We will help each local learn to assess its strengths and
weaknesses, identify and develop leaders, win real improvements for our students and each other, and
grow our membership ranks. Ensuring that all of our locals have the resources & support to be strong
will make our organization the most diverse & powerful force in the state. To get there, we must build
the leadership of members in ALL of our locals by:

  • Customizing our Approach to Local Development. Each local is unique. Support for locals should be responsive, relevant, and effective, no matter the local’s size or location.
    • We will clarify and strengthen our framework for assessing the vitality of each local to help create a shared understanding of the characteristics that promote growth and sustainability.
    • We will meet with local leadership and members directly to dream together, assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, identify interests and priorities, and support them in developing goals and strategic plans that match their unique conditions.
    • We will support locals in building strategic and effective relationships with key district officials, elected officials, faith and community leaders, parent organizations, and local media.
    • We will ensure all locals have access to coaching, training, and best practices on how they more effectively run their organization and increase participation, in whichever ways they most need.
    • We will coach and support all locals in conducting regular, targeted membership drives to increase their size and power.
  • Creating Local Cohort Support Systems Rank and file leaders must have the skills and support they need to rebuild their locals. By grouping locals with similar strengths and needs, we can more effectively utilize the resources and skills of our elected leaders. Much of that learning can come from one another as well, and we will build and support peer networks to facilitate relationship building and experience exchange.
    • We will group locals into cohorts based on similar conditions, strengths, and needs in order to coordinate more targeted supports from staff and elected leaders, as well as facilitate networks of peer support.
    • We will seek to establish release grants for regional and/or cohort leaders so rank and file members can take on new leadership roles within our systems of support.
  • Developing Leaders. According to social movement scholar and one of the chief architects of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Marshall Ganz, leaders “take responsibility for creating conditions that enable others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty”. Educators have the skills and the existing relationships to help lead our state towards a sustainable and healthy future. Our union should help sharpen those skills, expand those relationships, and use our collective strength to defend and transform public schools.
    • We will develop and coordinate statewide campaigns that allow locals to take action on a regular basis, increase visibility, allow members to learn through hands-on experience, and identify new potential leaders with targeted support from staff and statewide leadership.
    • We will continue to offer high-quality training and professional development on a regular basis in a variety of ways:
      • Annual statewide summer leadership training, launching cohorts through differentiated support
      • Annual regional summer leadership training
      • Regular regional/topical trainings, conferences, and gatherings
      • On-line learning modules
      • Video conference calls
      • Targeted local trainings/supports
    • We will strengthen our work to specifically support and develop the leadership of educators of color on our jobs, in the union, and in our communities.
    • We will build partnerships that incentivize and encourage more of our students, and especially our students of color, to become educators through our work with the Teacher Cadet program, school districts, and colleges/universities, especially our state’s public HBCUs and UNC Pembroke.

2. Build Our NCAE

Our union has experienced great transition and struggle for the last decade, as our state has changed
around us. For our students, each other, and our collective futures, NCAE must not only survive, but be
prepared to lead a movement to defend and transform public schools.

Our statewide organization should both serve and lead our locals, learning from and sharing together in
a constant exchange that makes all of us stronger. To achieve this purpose, we must be more
accountable, be more effective, and create the supports and space necessary for our rank-and-file
members to participate and lead. A strong NCAE makes us greater than the sum of our parts, and every
member in the state should feel more powerful and more connected to one another because they
belong to our union. We must defend and transform NCAE in the following ways:

  • Increasing accountability and encouraging participation. Every single member of NCAE contributes a significant portion of our income to the union. We must not take this commitment for granted, and we owe each member a reciprocal commitment. If we are to earn members’ continued trust, we must work to engage each member in the decisions that impact our organization and our lives.
    • We will improve our internal communications systems to ensure that all members have access to current information on the work of the organization and issues that impact our students, our work, and our communities. This includes:
      • Regularly updating an easy-to-use website.
      • Weekly communications from leadership.
      • Increased use of social media and mass communication tools to help us better connect to, support, and celebrate one another.
      • Commitment to creating more opportunities for member input and two-way communication.
    • We will work to ensure that members understand how the union works, and how they can participate and lead by supporting elected leaders and staff in:
      • Ensuring that all new members receive accessible orientation on the structure of the organization, how decisions are made, and how to get involved.
      • Providing members ongoing access to tools that will help them understand ongoing discussions about the union’s bylaws, policies, and procedures.
      • Creating opportunities for rank and file members to participate in strategic planning at local and statewide levels, and receive regular reports on progress towards defined goals.
      • Sharing regular reports on progress towards NBIs passed during the state convention.
      • Issuing full annual financial reports and quarterly financial updates that report how member dues are used.
      • Making and sharing regular membership reports and analysis that all members have access to.
      • Notifying all members of schedules and agendas for division, regional, and state Board of Directors meetings, and encouraging members to attend, in addition to providing timely publication of official minutes and decisions of these bodies.
      • Providing regular opportunities for training so that members who want to lead in new ways have access to the tools that they need.
    • We will improve internal elections processes with a vision that every seat on every local body or delegation will be filled through a vote that is taken seriously enough to be announced ahead of time, transparent, fair, and competitive. This work will include:
      • Conducting an audit of every local to understand how it conducts elections, and then developing a plan for supporting them in ensuring that all members can engage meaningfully.
      • Providing ongoing training and support for locals in establishing and maintaining best practices for democratic decision-making.
      • Maintaining and enforcing clear and consistent election policy.
      • Reporting on state and local internal elections, including key deadlines and results.
  • Improving effectiveness. In order to win the schools our students deserve, we must create an organizational culture that centers a commitment to effectiveness. We must take our work seriously with a constant attention to maximizing our resources. Our members deserve to participate in our union’s vision-creating, goal-setting, strategizing, decision-making, implementing, reflecting, and assessing. Increased member inclusion will grow our strength and potential.
    • We will regularly engage our members and allies in dreaming and vision creation in order to guide us and create a sense of shared purpose.
    • We will set and share SMART goals that are grounded in a thorough analysis of our union’s strengths and weaknesses and an assessment of what is possible.
    • We will engage members in the development and implementation of strategic plans and initiatives through a more deliberate and coordinated use of resources and the energy of staff, local, and regional leaders.
    • We will create more open and regular opportunities for celebration, critical reflection, and feedback for each effort we make.
    • We will share the results of our work and our assessments of its relative successes and challenges so that members know how effectively we are using their resources and energy.
    • We will improve cooperation between local/statewide leaders, rank and file members, and staff by creating an environment of mutual respect, building regular spaces for meaningful collaboration, providing support, and coaching.
    • We will review our state and regional staffing structure and tailor it to the needs and priorities of our locals and overall goals.
  • Growing Membership. Our organization has struggled through membership losses for far too long. To achieve our fullest potential, we aim to sign up every educator in the state. That won’t happen overnight, but we have learned from the growth we have lead in key locals, and we will use those lessons to achieve measurable growth in every region of the state.
    • We will develop, implement, and evaluate strategic plans to increase membership that are rooted in a deep understanding of membership patterns and trends and have clear, achievable goals and deadlines. These strategies will include:
      • Hosting regular membership drives that are both general and targeted towards specific groups or roles.
      • Maintaining accurate and up-to-date membership data and supporting locals in establishing and maintaining actionable data and reporting structures.
      • We will resource programs specifically designed for building the leadership and strength of our organization of bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodians that reflect the profound power that our co-workers in those positions hold in our school systems.
    • We will create organizational spaces for leaders to develop unique approaches to organizing all categories of both certified and ESP members because there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
    • We will support members in reinvigorating existing divisions (Administrators, ESP, Student, and Higher Ed) as well as exploring new areas of membership growth such as community colleges and charter schools.
    • We will study sustainable dues experiments and incentives as potential opportunities for increased member growth.

3. Build Our Power and Reclaim Our State

As an organization of employees of public schools, we have the potential to change our state and our
future. We are over 100,000 strong. We work in school systems that are the #1, 2, or 3 employer in 97 of
100 counties in the state. We are connected to the families of more than 1.5 million students across
the state. We have shown our power through two major mobilizations in less than a year, by taking back
the Governor’s office, by breaking the supermajority in the NC General Assembly despite districts that
were proven to be racially gerrymandered, and by winning many local initiatives and improvements
across the state. A strong NCAE can help lead both the defense and transformation of our schools and
a movement that will permanently improve the lives of our students, their families, ourselves, and our

We cannot, however, do it alone. We must build broad and mutual alliances with our students, their
parents, and their communities. We must ask them to show up to support us in our schools, our streets,
our board meetings, and our ballot boxes. And we must show up to support them. NCAE has a proud
tradition of fighting for racial and social justice, and we will work to honor and grow that legacy.
The most important way to grow our power is by building our locals, but these specific aspects of our
program will need vision and support from the statewide organization in order to fully thrive in our
locals. We will lead this effort by:

  • Working for Racial and Social Justice. The people who are leading the effort to privatize our schools are also the people who pass policies that keep so many of our students trapped in the prison-industrial complex, divide our families from each other through hate and/or force, shred our social safety nets, push us out of our cities, and destroy our rural economies and environments. They are more interested in profits than the potential of people, and they don’t care what happens to most of us. Educators, like other primarily women-staffed care professions, are expected to sacrifice and be quiet. However, there are more of us than there are of them. This small handful of people can only win if we let them divide us and keep us quiet. As a union of educators, we have a special role to play in creating the schools and communities that we all deserve, from our curriculum to our community organizing.
    • We will work to establish an organizational culture of deep commitment to racial and social justice in a variety of ways, including:
      • Creating a leadership cohort of members and staff who will develop a shared organizational approach to understanding history, defining terms, generating materials and training, and providing an overall framework that can focus our efforts in every part of the organization.
      • Generating tools for, and conducting, internal audits to ensure that we are working towards racial and social justice in all aspects of our organization, from hiring practices to leadership development to our external programming.
      • Supporting and expanding networks for educators of color, LGBTQ educators, and other marginalized groups that are often driven from our profession because of hostile working conditions or economic hardship.
    • We will educate our members and the public on issues of racial and social justice by:
      • Promoting best practices and building professional development programs and networks that will allow our members to increase their skills and practice in culture creation, pedagogy, lesson planning, and relationship building grounded in our commitment to justice.
      • Integrating racial and social justice training, principles, and practices into every leadership development program we have from recruitment, to curriculum, to evaluation, because there is no part of our work that should not center this commitment.
      • Creating specialized programs to help members, other educators, our students, and the public better understand the complex issues that divide us and help us build the relationships that we need to win.
    • We will organize for racial and social justice by:
      • Designing and running campaigns aimed at winning policy initiatives that dismantle racial and social inequities that occur at school.
      • Running our own campaigns that connect school-based issues to the conditions that our students face in their communities.
      • Building mutually respectful relationships, entering into coalitions and partnerships with organizations that fight for the needs of our students and our coworkers outside of school, working to help our members understand the ways that the issues connect to their lives on a daily basis.
      • Supporting the work of parent and community organizations as an essential part of the movement to defend and transform our schools.
      • Working with other labor organizations to finally end the state’s anti-public-sector-worker, pro-corporation, Jim Crow-era labor laws and expand the growth and power of other unions throughout the state.
  • Owning our profession. Since we are both a union and a professional association, we should have much more control over our profession. All medical schools must be certified by the American Medical Association. Doctors control their profession. Educators, on the other hand, are often dictated to by people who have never done our jobs. In order to achieve professional status, we must exert more control over our working conditions and our students’ learning conditions, from our teacher preparation programs to our work in our buildings.
    • We will build strategic relationships with university schools of education across the state in order to:
      • Initiate research and practice relationships that constantly improve the quality of curriculum and instructional practice.
      • Work to expand the pool of young people, and especially young people of color, going into public education careers by creating partnerships between K-12 districts and local colleges that integrate:
        • Teacher cadet in high schools.
        • Free tuition to local universities.
        • Commitments to serve in their home systems for a period of 5 years.
        • Integrate Spanish competence training into teacher certification programs.
        • Participate in the creation of the standards and curriculum being taught to pre-service professionals.
    • We will support locals in building strategic relationships and employing organizing tactics that expand our power and the ability to shape local curricula and working conditions through:
      • School board decisions
      • District policies and practices
      • District Teacher/Staff Advisory Councils
      • School Improvement Teams
  • Communicating. As public school employees, we know we don’t have all the money or clout that our political opponents possess. We don’t own the media, but we do have enormous respect and public goodwill in our communities. We do have a lot of really smart people with a lot of skills. With more strategic mass communications and digital organizing, we can mobilize more public support and find more educators and supporters in new places.
    • We will build public support and engagement through strategic communications by
      • Committing more staff resources to strategic communications and more regularly engaging on all social media platforms.
      • Providing training and support for locals and members to use strategic communication tools in a variety of ways.
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