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NEA honors Bill Richardson with America's Greatest Education Governor Award


San Diego - July 03, 2009 -

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico today received the America’s Greatest Education Governor Award from the National Education Association. The annual award recognizes and honors governors who have made major, state-level education strides that improve public schools.

“Gov. Richardson speaks up on issues that affect children, and he follows up the talk with action,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA. “Realizing the impact early childhood education has on long-term success, he extended kindergarten programs to full-day classes. Despite criticism, he advocated for and passed a law to provide free preK for 4-year-olds.”

“Since day one, I’ve made education the top priority of my administration,” said Gov. Bill Richardson. “From increasing teacher pay, to ensuring that we recruit and retain the best and brightest, to better preparing our kids by implementing a statewide preK program, I’m proud of the reforms we’ve made. I want to thank the NEA for being a partner in that change, and I look forward to working with the organization as we continue to improve educational opportunities for all New Mexico students.”

Gov. Bill Richardson is serving his second term. In addition to early childhood education efforts, he fought to put physical education back into elementary schools and take junk foods out. He has been passionate and vocal about the shortcomings of No Child Left Behind. When Gov. Richardson took office, New Mexico ranked 46th in the nation in teacher salaries. Now the state ranks 36th. He also restored collective bargaining rights for educators.

“Gov. Richardson has made great efforts to improve school funding, increase school employee salaries, and ensure that the needs of the whole child are considered in making education policy decisions,” said Sharon Morgan, president of NEA-New Mexico. “He has been a champion of both educators and students.”

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel presented the award to Gov. Richardson before nearly 10,000 educators attending NEA’s Representative Assembly in San Diego. Richardson is the second recipient of the prestigious award.

High resolution photos of this event can be downloaded from http://www.flickr.com/photos/neapr/sets

Free, unrestricted sound bites can be downloaded from http://lyonspr.com/nea

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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.