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President’s budget would strengthen economy by investing in education

NEA President Van Roekel applauds renewed national attention on education

WASHINGTON - February 26, 2009 -

President Barack Obama’s federal budget proposal, released Thursday, calls for important investments in quality public education—from preschool through higher education—to prepare students to compete with 21st century skills. The budget continues the administration’s ambitious plans of once again making education a national priority and moving toward the goal of great public schools for every student.

“Money is tight in nearly every American household, and it’s reassuring that President Obama is focusing scarce resources on education,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Investing in quality public schools will see the greatest return on taxpayer money, and strengthen the entire economy.”

Specifically, President Obama has requested that Congress invest in early childhood education and prepare students at a very early age. He says funding for the Early Head Start program should be doubled, and Head Start should be expanded.

He has also called on Congress to expand Pell Grants, college grants for the neediest students. All Americans should be able to afford higher education, the president says, and the country must triple the number of graduate fellowships in science, to help spur innovation by up-and-coming researchers.

NEA members also support the president’s proposal to reform health care by allocating more than $630 billion over the next 10 years to the task. It’s an issue that hits home with all Americans, Van Roekel said, including NEA’s 3.2 million members who want health coverage not just for themselves but for their students.

“Our public schools have been underfunded for far too long, and the president’s budget reflects a renewed commitment to protecting the basic right of every child to attend a quality public school,” Van Roekel said. “We’re also pleased that the budget calls for better quality assessments that ‘accurately measure students’ knowledge and skills, including critical thinking skills’ and ‘commits resources to turn around high-need, low-performing schools with strong supports, not just sanctions.’ NEA has long advocated for these very policies. Investing in public education, and investing in educators, will ensure that our students can compete in the 21st century high skills economy.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Will Potter
 (202) 822-7823,