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Incoming NEA President: 'New Era Arising for Public Education'

Dennis Van Roekel concludes the Association's 146th Annual Meeting

WASHINGTON - July 06, 2008 -

Dennis Van Roekel, incoming president of the National Education Association, said there is a "new era arising for public education" if educators come together and use their collective power to advance the promise of public education. Van Roekel and the other newly elected NEA officers addressed nearly 10,000 educators at the conclusion of the 146th NEA Annual Meeting.

"Nothing good in this country has ever come except through collective action; it was always the good will of the people who want to make things happen, and that is what we do," said Van Roekel.  "I can’t think of a better time to unite our members and our nation than in the fall of 2008. This is a time when we need to come together and decide what we want for America." 

Van Roekel, a 25-year classroom veteran, is finishing his second term as NEA vice president. He assumes his new duties on September 1, 2008. Van Roekel succeeds two-term President Reg Weaver, a 30-year classroom veteran from Illinois.

The math teacher from Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix, Ariz., has served in numerous key Association offices, including NEA secretary-treasurer, Arizona Education Association president, and Paradise Valley Education Association president.

NEA delegates also elected Lily Eskelsen as vice president.   Eskelsen, an elementary school teacher from Utah, has served two three-year terms as NEA secretary-treasurer.  She remains one of the highest-ranking labor leaders in the country and one of its most powerful Hispanic educators. 

Becky Pringle, a physical science teacher from Harrisburg, Pa., was elected secretary-treasurer.  Pringle previously served two three-year terms as a member of NEA's Executive Committee, where she advocated on behalf of the nation's educators on issues such as diversity and human and civil rights.   

Van Roekel's remarks conclude the NEA's 146th Annual Meeting. This week, delegates voted to endorse Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and Obama addressed the delegation to call for overhauling No Child Left Behind, providing adequate resources to educators, and encouraging parental and community involvement.

Earlier this week, Obama sent a letter to NEA members in support of the Association's new plan to transform all public schools by the year 2020 through redefining the federal role in education.

"I'm proud to know that the office of NEA president will be in the hands of such a capable, passionate leader and educator," Weaver said. "Dennis Van Roekel has been a tireless campaigner for the basic right of every child to attend great public schools. And with the efforts of NEA's 3.2 million members, we can help make that vision a reality by electing a friend of education to the White House."

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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