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President’s community college initiative would expand education opportunities for millions of Americans

WASHINGTON - July 14, 2009 -

President Barack Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative today, a $12 billion plan to double the number of students who graduate from community colleges. The proposal is part of the administration’s goal of making the United States a world leader in higher education by helping an additional 5 million Americans earn degrees in the next 10 years.

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

“A quality workforce depends on having access to quality, affordable education. Community colleges serve a vital role by opening their doors to a wide range of students, including those looking to advance in their jobs or learn the skills they need to compete in a difficult job market. Providing community colleges with adequate tools and resources will help open their doors even wider, expanding access to 21st century skills for millions of Americans. Increasing the number of students attending colleges, and providing additional opportunities, will create a stronger, more competitive workforce.

“This initiative should be seen as a vital link in a lifelong chain, educating students from preK to college and beyond. Our 3.2 million members, including faculty and staff on community college and four-year campuses nationwide, are eager to lend their experience and expertise to the shaping of these efforts. The NEA looks forward to working with the administration and ensuring that every American has access to quality schools.”

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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,