Noel Candelaria is the secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association. He was previously the president of the Texas State Teachers Association.
As head of the TSTA, Candelaria was an opponent of charter schools. He also opposed the reopening of Texas public schools amid the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. He also opposed the use of standardized testing to measure the progress of students.
Candelaria is the son of immigrants from Mexico. He holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and education from the University of Texas at El Paso. 
Candelaria then went to work as a teacher in the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso teaching various subjects from algebra to world history. Candelaria then joined the Ysleta Teachers Association where he was eventually elected president. 
After his tenure as president of the Ysleta Teachers Association, Candelaria was elected vice president of the Texas State Teachers Association. After a three-year stint as vice president, Candelaria was elected president of the Texas State Teachers Association in 2014. 
Candelaria called for measures to help keep teachers in Texas schools. He called for more training for teachers before they entered the classroom and more support and training while in the classroom so they could grow as professionals. 
In 2015, Candelaria wrote an op-ed calling for more spending on education and for less standardized testing.  In 2016, Candelaria and the TSTA sued the Texas Education Agency to prevent the state from using some aspects of a teacher assessment system. Candelaria and TSTA claimed the teacher assessment system was too reliant on test scores and was too complicated. 
In 2020, Candelaria and the TSTA opposed rules that would make it easier for charter schools to operate in Texas. Candelaria attacked the “underfunding” of traditional public schools and said the new rules would allow the establishment of a parallel school structure. 
In 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak, Candelaria and the TSTA consistently opposed the reopening of Texas schools. Candelaria did not want to reopen any schools until the pandemic would begin to subside. He also demanded that the Texas Education Agency mandate face masks and implement regular coronavirus testing and social distancing in schools. 
Also during the coronavirus outbreak, Candelaria called for the suspension of state standardized testing. He claimed that the state’s standardized tests do not add any value or measure student performance compared to other testing. 
Election to NEA
In August 2020, Candelaria was elected secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association. He was elected in a remote assembly and through mail-in ballots. He formally took over his new position in September 2020.