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NEA president appointed to Equity and Excellence Commission

WASHINGTON - February 22, 2011 -

National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel, a 23-year teaching veteran and longtime activist and advocate for children and public education, has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission.

The Commission will examine the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to achievement gaps, paying particular attention to school funding issues, and will make recommendations on how federal policies can address such disparities. The Commission will also recommend ways to restructure school finance systems to achieve equity in the distribution of educational resources in order to boost student learning and achievement.

The Commission held its first meeting today.

“I am honored to represent the 3.2 million members of the NEA. The fight for equity in education funding is a cause we have long advocated,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “It is important to recognize three proponents of this effort: Congressman Michael Honda (CA-15) and Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-2), true champions of school funding equity who urged the creation of this Commission, and Secretary Duncan for heeding their call.

“The work this Commission has been tasked with is quite timely and extremely important. A 21st century world necessitates that all students have the skills to assume their place in a global economy. Too many students in high-poverty communities are allowed to attend schools that are chronically underfunded and understaffed. We’ve learned that these factors create additional barriers to achievement and through NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign, we’re working to get some additional targeted support.

“Every student deserves a great public school regardless of his or her zip code. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the current system. Addressing equity issues will require not only examining the resources available for public schools but also addressing how they are allocated.

“It is my hope that this Commission will be a catalyst for our nation to conceptualize the quality of education we want for all students and find the political will to structure and resource public education appropriately to help them succeed.”

For more information on NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign, visit:

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    The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee 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: Stacey Grissom (202) 822-7823