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NEA: Kennedy was a friend to children and public education

WASHINGTON - August 26, 2009 -

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, expressed sympathy on behalf of NEA’s 3.2 million members today at news of the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), a longtime friend of public education. 

The following can be attributed to Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president:

“Sen. Ted Kennedy was a strong, courageous leader in protecting the basic right of all students to attend great public schools. The NEA’s 3.2 million members recognized his work with our highest honor, the Friend of Education Award, for his leadership. He was a longtime advocate for teachers and students, and he left an indelible imprint on every major education law passed since the 1960s, including Head Start, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, direct student loans and the Class Size Reduction Act. More than any single person, he shaped the modern landscape for public education. His contributions are as numerous as they are lasting.

“Kennedy’s legislative legacy affects all working Americans and their families. He set an example for all lawmakers by consistently working across the aisles on critical policies, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, COBRA, and health care. His leadership and lifetime of experience are needed now more than ever, and he will be greatly missed.”

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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,