Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
NEA Legal & Employment Guidance

Educator Rights to Give Public Testimony

Elected representatives need to hear from you as they make decisions that will affect public education.
a black man at a lecturn with Sen. Bernie Sanders looking on Patrick G. Ryan
Arthur Anderson, a teacher’s aide from Virginia, speaks about educator pay at a town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Published: April 4, 2023
This resource originally appeared on

You can speak at school board hearings, state legislative sessions, and federal Congressional hearings.

NEA members have shared their experiences with elected representatives on some crucial issues, including the need for honesty in education, ways to support LGBTQ+ youth, and more.

Elected representatives need to hear from you as they make decisions that will affect public education.

You should be careful that your actions and speech do not violate community norms or expectations as to how educators should behave.

Educators can be held to higher standards than other members of the public, resulting in greater scrutiny of the subject and content of your speech.

The First Amendment does not protect speech on private matters. It also may not protect speech that is offensive or disrespectful. Similarly, tenure laws broadly protect teachers from being terminated for off-duty conduct, but not where the conduct violates community norms or expectations of how educators should behave.

In the next section discussing Social Media Activity, we provide further detail about how the context and content of your speech impacts the extent to which it is protected. Some of the advice is specific to social media, but you should keep the general principles in mind for all out-of-school speech.

This page is intended to provide general information. For specific advice, you should always contact your local union or attorney. 

Be a part of Team MAE

Want to be a part of an organization that does more than collect dues? MAE uses our collective power to protect you and support public education.
Advocating for Change Header

Together we're stronger. Together we're heard.

You belong in the movement! Join today to belong to the movement of educators and school staff fighting for the pay and working conditions we all deserve.

Advocating strong public schools for every student and every public school employee

Mississippi Association of Educators (MAE) represents thousands of Mississippians—educators, students, activists, workers, parents, neighbors, friends—who believe in opportunity for all students and in the power of public education to transform lives and create a more just and inclusive society.