Chapter

Educational Elites and the Movement to Secularize Public Education: The Case of the National Education Association

Kraig Beyerlein

in The Secular Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780520230002
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936706 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520230002.003.0003
Educational Elites and the Movement to Secularize Public Education: The Case of the National Education Association

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The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest and the most influential organizational advocate for the cause of public education in the United States. Over the years, NEA educators who advocated religious teaching for public education lost the ability to maintain this policy within the association. This chapter describes the NEA's initial educational position calling for the teaching of “common Christianity” in public schools and the central themes of this position. Following this, it shows how and why new educational leaders joining the association contested this “common Christianity” and analyzes the association's annual convention proceedings, which were crucial in NEA politics and identity, and helped shape the character of American education more broadly. Finally, the chapter explains how this “common Christianity” was decisively displaced in the NEA, identifying changes in the ways that different influential educators of the association viewed the proper role of religion in public schools over time.

Keywords: National Education Association; public education; common Christianity; American education; religion; public schools

Chapter.  17376 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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