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Virginia Education Association: 150 Years Strong

PHOTO: VEA president Meg Gruber fields questions regarding the group's 150th anniversary. Courtesy of VEA.
PHOTO: VEA president Meg Gruber fields questions regarding the group's 150th anniversary. Courtesy of VEA.
April 22, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - It began in a small church in Petersburg in late December, 1863, with a few concerned men who had gathered to figure out a way to make sure children got their school books, despite the Civil War that was raging in Virginia. Now, 150 years later, the Virginia Education Association has more than 50,000 members.

Science teacher Meg Gruber, VEA president, said the history of the organization is filled with many battles won for students, women and people of color.

"We were the first to work with job protection for married and pregnant teachers. It's really hard to believe that in the past, if a teacher got married or definitely if she got pregnant, they lost their job," she said.

Over the years, she added, the VEA fought for the implementation of public schools and mandatory school attendance, and was also instrumental in bringing the predominantly black VTA together with the VEA to bridge the gap between white and black students, as well as teachers. The VEA has plans for a big anniversary celebration in December of this year.

The VEA is still crucial to public education, Gruber said.

"We are definitely the only voice for public education students and public education employees," she said. "It's very important that, even today, we continue to advocate for what's best for our children and ensure that we're still investing in our future."

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA