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Working to Make the Future Better for Children

NEA president encourages renewed focus on keeping Dr. King’s dream alive


WASHINGTON - April 05, 2008 -

Forty years ago, a bright burning flame of change was brutally snuffed out. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who dared to dream, a man who labored to make a difference, a man who, in a speech to striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., challenged us to “rise up with a greater readiness and determination, to make America a better nation.” As the world reflects on his life and legacy on the anniversary of his death, the National Education Association stresses the need to fulfill the dream Dr. King envisioned by providing great public schools for every child.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Reg Weaver:

“Dr. King knew it was not enough to remove the shackles from a man’s legs, if he didn’t have the strength to stand. He knew that we would never achieve true equality until every person had equal opportunities. While we are one of the richest nations in the world, our public schools are deteriorating and high school graduation rates are declining. Nearly half of all Black students are dropping out of high school and there is a great disparity in access to quality education for minority students. This is not Dr. King’s dream.

“Forty years after his death, public education is one of the most important battlegrounds in the ongoing struggle for equality in our nation. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the plight of our schools and our children. Dr. King understood the importance of education and spoke of hope for our children and their futures. He understood that education is the key that opens the door to opportunity. If Dr. King were alive today, he would share our belief that every child has a basic right to a great public school.”

To learn more about how NEA is addressing issues in minority communities, including dropout rates and other educational disparities, visit: www.nea.org/achievement/images/statusofblacks.pdf .

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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: Michelle Hudgins  (202) 822-7823