Scott Launier has dedicated his work to fighting injustice and empowering others to do the same. As the President of the Central Florida Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida and an associate instructor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida, Scott has partnered with community organizations to create infrastructure to support diverse candidates to run for office and to empower working families. Coalition efforts have also focused on initiatives to change policies around drug offenses that disproportionately impact communities of color.

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The NEA team caught up with him over the weekend to get his views on education, activism and the future of our movement. Here are some outtakes of our conversation.

NEA: What spurred you to become an educator activist?

I don’t like bullies and, we have a responsibility to fight injustices when we see them, for those who are unable to fight them, and for others who cannot yet see them. By changing unjust conditions, and by educating, modeling, advocating, and motivating, we empower others to join us in making change.

NEA: Why should social justice activism matter to educators?

Social justice activism does not lie outside education, but weaves its way through it and the lives of our students. Public education itself was one outcome of social justice activism. We became educators because we want to empower others to effect positive change in our local and global communities.

NEA: What role do students play in movement building, especially in light of the new political environment?

Students have a lot of power, but only when they are aware of it and activate it. Students need guidance in learning the time it takes to effect real change, the patience and optimism this requires, and how to predict the actual impact of their actions regardless of their intentions. Given this, the rest of us can get out of the way, and students will rule the world!

NEA: What is the role personal stories play in SJ activism?

Personal stories become the heart and soul of a movement. Without knowing for whom we demand social justice, a movement will lose focus and sustainability.

NEA: What are the most important elements of movement building to you?

Building relationships. The relationships we build, the friends we make, are what empower and sustain the difficult long-term work required of movement building.

NEA: What is the biggest issue facing public education today? OR What issues are on the forefront of the social justice/education justice movement in this country?

The biggest problem facing public education today, the problem that impacts significant issues like all students having equitable access to resources and success, or teachers reclaiming their professional authority to teach and assess, is the problem of our current cultural narrative about public education. The value and effectiveness of our profession has been coopted for too many years by those who would undermine public education. When we get back to parents, students, workers and the community at large celebrating the value and hope of public education, we will be able to impact elections and policies that determine how much we invest into our students, educators, and education support professionals.

NEA: What song gets you fired up to do this work?

“You’ve Got a Chance” by Bad Religion

NEA: What message would you most want to tell educator activists just starting out?

You can do this! And you will never be alone—always ask for support. The passion of those you surround yourself with will give you the energy you need to keep working.

Vote for the 2017 Social justice Activist of the Year!

Freedom to Read

  • Sign the pledge to support the freedom to read.
    Censoring books written by mostly Black, brown, and LGBTQ authors denies students the ability to see themselves and understand our similarities and our differences. We’re joining together to make sure every student has to look no further than the shelves of their own school libraries to find age-appropriate books that show they are reflected and respected.

Honesty in Education

COVID-19 & Our Communities

  • Build power in your community — join the NEA EdJustice League!
  • The systemic inequities that are laid bare by COVID-19 increase the stressors on our students, our families and the most vulnerable in our communities. As we organize together for a better tomorrow, we are sharing ways that educators and allies are addressing the challenges and keeping us connected and caring for each other.

Racial Justice is Education Justice

Our education system is intended to uphold equal opportunity, but too often it also entrenches racial disparities by its design. We are engaging educators, students and allies to foster real dialogue around issues of racial justice in education and to mobilize and take action for education justice.

Support Ethnic Studies Programs

From campaigns to require schools to offer ethnic studies courses, to efforts to change the names of schools honoring Confederate leaders, students and educators are mobilizing to include voices of the diverse ethnicities that have contributed to the history and culture of the United States.

Black Lives Matter @ School

The goal of Black Lives Matter @ School is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities for people of all ages to engage with issues of racial justice.

Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline

  • Sign the pledge to shut down the school-to-prison pipeline.
    Zero tolerance and other exclusionary school discipline policies are pushing kids out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system at unprecedented rates. Learn how educators, students and families are building relationships and community to address and prevent conflict.

Families Belong Together

  • Stand With Educators to Support Fair & Just Immigration
    Immigration issues are complicated. But some things are simple. We should not punish children for decisions they didn’t make. We should not separate families. And we should provide a trusted path to citizenship for immigrant Dreamers. Read how educators are taking action on these issues.


  • Stand with educators and support DACA
    Dreamers are young, aspiring Americans – part of our communities. They are students who deserve every opportunity to learn, educators who inspire children each day, members of the military, our neighbors and friends. These are their stories. This is their voice.

School Safe Zones

  • View an interactive Google map to see where school districts have passed or are considering Safe Zones policies to protect our immigrant students.

All students should have the opportunity to learn without the fear and distress that results from harsh immigration enforcement. Many school districts are making their campuses “safe zones” for immigrant students and communities. You can be part of this movement.

Protecting Our Students' Civil Rights

In the face of federal civil rights rollbacks and threats, educators, parents and students are organizing to adopt school board policies that strengthen student protections. Find model policies and strategies that will empower you to ensure all students’ right to a safe and affirming school.

Supporting LGBTQ Youth

LGTBQ students face unique challenges in our schools. They are more likely to face bullying and harassment leading to poor grades, higher dropout rates and homelessness. Safe and affirming schools are a core element of student success.

Educational Equity for Women and Girls

All students deserve equal access to educational opportunities. However, girls and women often face structural barriers that threaten their success in school and beyond. Girls of color are more likely than white girls to face unfair discipline. And sexual harassment and violence in school are problems that confront most all girls. Learn how educators, students and allies are mobilizing to support the needs of all students — regardless of gender.

Facing Hate and Bias at School

All students have a right to a public education in a safe learning environment. But right now, many of our students are scared, anxious, and feeling threatened. Students and educators around the country are reporting hostile and hateful environments in their schools and communities. When students feel that they are not welcome, their ability to learn and thrive is diminished.