KEA History

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The Kent Education Association is the collective body of nearly 2,000 dedicated public school educators within Kent.  KEA promotes and protects the education profession and advocates for quality public schools for every child in the Kent School District.

The Kent Education Association was established in 1961 in the basement of Doug and Madeline Garland.  The first work was organizing membership, including publishing a monthly print newsletter, “The KEA Reporter”, and then later “The Compass”.  By 1969, KEA adopted its first set of Bylaws.  Through years of dedicated union work, organizing, and advocacy, the first KEA contract was bargained during the 1975-76 school year.  At that time there were just 10 schools in the Kent School District.

The Kent School District is now the 5th largest district in Washington State, covering 72 square miles of King County, serving students in Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, Renton, Auburn, Black Diamond, and Federal Way.  Our 25,000 students attend 44 schools and academies and make up the most diverse district in the state, speaking over 130 different languages.

Early on, KEA aspired to build, and eventually own, an office space and a reserve account was started.  The KEA Building is centrally located on East Hill and has served members in this location since 2000.  Carrying on that vision, and through years of diligent fiscal planning, the KEA building was paid off in 2021. 

The members of KEA elect officers every two years, including the President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer and the Diversity and Equity Executive Officer, to drive the work of the Association.  These governance positions serve on the KEA Executive Board alongside High School, Middle School, Elementary, and At-Large members who are elected on alternating cycles.  The Board also includes the WEA Board Director, WEA-PAC Chair, and the WEA Retired Chair. 

Kent Education Association Representatives are elected at the location level with one representative allotted for every 20 members.  The Executive Board and Representative Council are the bodies that guide and carry out the work of the Association.  With the help of our WEA Staff, we collaborate to advocate for our members, plan and organize events and activities, and encourage involvement in political action.

Today, KEA continues the crucial work of the union to improve our members’ working conditions and our students’ learning conditions.  KEA strives to make Kent the best place for educators and students to work, learn and thrive.