President, National Education Association
Born to an Illinois coal mining family in 1939, Reg Weaver has devoted his life to education and organizing educators. He spent 30 years in the Harvey school system and served as president of the Illinois Education Association from 1981 to 1997. Weaver led a 15 year struggle for a comprehensive collective bargaining law for all public education institutions in Illinois. That bill was passed and signed into law by Governor Thompson in 1983 and remains the foundation of collective bargaining today. Now in his second term as President of the National Education Association, Weaver maintains a world wide reputation as an effective champion of public education. In addition to his leadership in the NEA, Weaver also serves as the Vice President of Education International, an organization that represents 29 million teachers and education workers in 169 countries.
Ella Flagg Young
President, National Education Association, 1910
Born in 1845, Ella Flagg Young became an elementary school teacher in Chicago at the age of 17. For the rest of her life she was at the forefront of the struggle to empower the teaching profession towards the goal of educating the whole child and the creation of a democratic society. Young rejected the Board of Education model for the school in which the teacher was in the role of an assembly line worker, merely pasting prescribed bits of information into the heads of the children as they passed through the school house. She became the first woman to head a great metropolitan school system as Chicago’s superintendent of Schools from 1909 to 1915. She saw clearly that teachers needed union organization if they were to be heard, and proved her mettle as a valiant defender of teachers, including their right to organize. As the Chicago Federation of Teachers grew in power under Margaret Haley and Catherin Goggin, Young tried to mediate in the increasing tensions with the Board of Education. But in 1915, after the enactment of the “Loeb Rule” by the Chicago Board of Education, resulting in the discharge of 68 teachers for refusing to withdraw from the Chicago Federation of Teachers, Young resigned from her position as superintendent.
The Loeb Rule
(Named for Jacob Loeb, President of the Chicago Board of Education)
“Membership by teachers in labor unions or in organizations of teachers affiliated with a trade union or a federation or association of trade unions, as well as teachers’ organizations which have officers, business agents, or other representatives who are not members of the teaching force, is inimical to proper discipline, prejudicial to the efficiency of the teaching force, and detrimental to the welfare of the public school system. Therefore, such membership, affiliation, or representation is hereby prohibited.”