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Pennsylvania’s Dolores McCracken Awarded with National Education Association’s Highest Honor

HOUSTON - July 05, 2019 -

Dolores McCracken, former president of the Pennsylvania Education Association (PSEA), posthumously received the National Education Association’s (NEA) highest honor today, the NEA Friend of Education Award. McCracken’s two adult children accepted the award from the nearly 7,000 educators at the 2019 NEA Representative Assembly.

“Dolores was a true inspiration to every student and member who had the good fortune to meet her,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “She was unwavering in her representation and support of PSEA’s 181,000 members and all of Pennsylvania’s public school students. I can think of no better way for the Association to give homage to her service and commitment than awarding her with our highest honor. She was, and will always be remembered as a true Friend of Education.”

McCracken was a local, region, and statewide PSEA leader for more than two decades, directing her talents and energy toward programs and initiatives that improved public education for all students and PSEA members. The first paraeducator to become president of PSEA, McCracken was a true trailblazer and advocate for every staff member in the school community. During her tenure as president, she successfully championed bipartisan legislation to promote school safety, reduce time students spend on standardized testing, and protect dedicated school support professionals from having their jobs subcontracted to for-profit companies.

“I am thrilled that Dolores will receive this incredibly prestigious award. Her life was spent helping others, making our public schools better, breaking down barriers for women, and fighting for PSEA members – all in the pursuit of improving their lives and livelihoods,” said PSEA President Rich Askey. “Dolores was an absolutely extraordinary person. As friends, educators, support professionals, and PSEA and NEA members, we will honor her memory – every day.”

Dolores McCracken is remembered as a person who respected opposing views, amplified diverse voices, and personally responded to members’ emails, calls, and meeting requests. As PSEA President, she traveled thousands of miles each year, visiting members in Pennsylvania schools and hospitals. She believed in the power of collective action and solidarity, always looking for solutions, and proudly walked picket lines when necessary. She was truly a leader who served the people – both students and educators alike.

The NEA Friend of Education Award, presented each year during NEA’s Representative Assembly, recognizes a person or organization whose leadership, acts or support have significantly contributed to the improvement of American public education.

McCracken joins previous award recipients: Nobel-prize winners Malala Yousafzai and economist Paul Krugman; education policy writer and researcher Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond; leaders of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); U.S. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and William Jefferson Clinton; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); U. S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley; Sen. Edward Ted” Kennedy (D-Mass.).

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

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