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President Obama’s vision for 21st century America centers on strengthening education

NEA president welcomes “cradle to career” plan outlined by President Obama

WASHINGTON - March 10, 2009 -

President Barack Obama today expanded on earlier remarks about his vision for education in America in the 21st century. His “cradle to career” agenda would expand and improve quality early childhood education; get rid of “off-the-shelf” tests; support teachers through professional development and mentoring; provide resources for reducing dropouts; demand greater accountability for charter schools; support for the inclusion of critical thinking skills in standards, and increase financial aid for college students. President Obama made similar remarks during his historic inaugural address, and, more recently, while addressing a joint session of Congress.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“We welcome the vision President Obama is presenting for strengthening public education in the 21st century. He’s off to a solid start, making the largest investment of federal funds in the history of public education with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“His ‘cradle to career’ proposal mirrors what NEA and its 3.2 million members have been advocating, including reforming No Child Left Behind, requiring universal preK, ensuring access to high- quality early childhood education programs and child care opportunities to help students enter kindergarten ready to learn, making science and math education a national priority and increasing college access and success.

“We, like President Obama, advocate for improving professional development and mentoring for new and less effective teachers; a national investment in recruiting some of the most talented individuals into the field of teaching, as well as investing in scaling up innovative teacher preparation and induction models; and raising teachers’ compensation based on their knowledge and skills.

“We believe President Obama’s five-pillar plan—which encompasses universal preK to higher education and everything in between—gets us closer toward the goal of great public schools for every student. We look forward to working with President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to transform public education to prepare students to compete in a global economy.”

NEA is working to improve teacher quality through promotion of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards expansion and support of Teacher Working Condition Surveys. NEA also is partnering with the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State Schools Officers, and ACHIEVE to create higher quality standards that include 21st century skills and content.

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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: Miguel A. Gonzalez
(202) 822-7823,