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NEA President Led the Charge Against NCLB

Weaver delivers final address at NEA Representative Assembly

WASHINGTON - July 03, 2008 -

In an era of No Child Left Behind, underfunded public schools, and school voucher schemes, NEA President Reg Weaver has aggressively campaigned for the basic right of every child to receive a quality public education. Weaver addressed nearly 10,000 educators at his final NEA Representative Assembly today, and looked ahead to challenges, and possibilities, for public schools.

"Today, thanks to our commitment to children across this nation, the tide has turned," Weaver said. "The American people, and most members of Congress, now understand that NCLB has taken the professionalism out of teaching, and the joy out of learning."
Weaver's tenure dovetailed with NCLB's; the NEA president took office a few months after President Bush unveiled an education platform obsessively focused on standardized tests and punitive measures. In response, the NEA led a national campaign against the law, including historic lawsuits and lobbying efforts.

Now, as reauthorization of NCLB stalls in Congress, and as opposition to the law continues to grow, it is clear that NCLB has failed. The law judges children based solely on standardized test scores at the expense of preparing them for the real world. And the law's obsessive focus on testing, without providing basic resources, has narrowed the curriculum.

Under Weaver's leadership, membership in the nation's largest professional organization has increased 22 percent. The Association has expanded outreach efforts to minority communities, redefined and refocused its vision, and overhauled its budget to focus on key educational priorities like closing the achievement gaps.

On Wednesday, Weaver unveiled a plan to transform all public schools by the year 2020 through redefining the federal role in education. Weaver called on the government to embrace its role as a supporter-not a manager-of local educators. Sen. Barack Obama has sent a letter to NEA members this week supporting the plan.

The NEA has launched a $50 million election campaign that will mobilize its 3.2 million members in every state. NEA members played a critical role in the 2006 power change in Congress, and NEA members will play a critical role in the 2008 power change in the White House.

"This year can be a milestone for public education," Weaver said. "The overwhelming majority of the American people share our belief that education is a basic right. The overwhelming majority support public education. The American people are hungry for change."

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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: Will Potter  (202) 822-7823