The SDEA is the union of South Dakota educators, representing 5900 education professionals, including pre-service student and retired educators. SDEA members work in South Dakota's public schools, colleges and universities to help improve public education and the lives of South Dakota's children. SDEA members provide a wide range of professional education services in communities throughout the state. SDEA members teach in kindergarten classrooms and college lecture halls, counsel adolescents and assist in carving out career aspirations, drive school buses, prepare for careers in education and prepare school lunches, direct school plays and coach soccer, and provide professional services that benefit students, schools and the public in virtually every position needed to run South Dakota's schools.
SDEA has a long and wonderful tradition that spans over a century. Since its founding, SDEA members have been at the center of every struggle to advance the finest of American dreams — a high quality public education for every child. SDEA was founded in 1884. From representing only teachers to today’s representation of a broad education community, SDEA has consistently been at the forefront advocating for its members and the students they serve over its 132-year history. Teacher retirement (1959), rallies on the State Capitol for increased teacher pay (1987/1989), defeat of merit pay and punitive evaluation (2012) and achieving $67 million new and ongoing monies for education (2016) prove the strength of SDEA’s voice. The association is the state-level affiliate of the National Education Association, itself the largest union in the country with more than 3 million members.
The majority of the association’s family of membership is comprised of K-12 teachers and other K-12 certificated staff, and includes higher-education certificated staff, educational support professionals, students enrolled in teacher education programs, and retired educators, making SDEA the most inclusive and powerful voice of educators in the state. Educators in communities throughout South Dakota (a right to work state) are organized as local affiliates of SDEA, who negotiate on behalf of their members for fair wages, working conditions and improved learning opportunities. SDEA supports a headquarters office located in Pierre, one Service Center in Rapid City, and 148 locally-affiliated associations.
SDEA, like all affiliates of the NEA, is a democratic organization, with a twenty-one-member board of directors elected by members. The Association’s policies, resolutions and bylaws are determined annually at the SDEA Representative Assembly, where the annual dues structure is also approved.
The SDEA Board is led by statewide officers who are elected for no more than two, three-year terms: president, vice-president, secretary/treasurer and the NEA Board Director. They, and volunteers from the Board and the membership at large, serve on committees which work closely with SDEA’s staff to carry out the union’s work.