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National Teacher of the Year addresses thousands of fellow educators

Keynote emphasizes need to stick up for their work and stand up for all students


SAN DIEGO - July 05, 2009 -

Before a crowd of nearly 10,000 fellow educators, Anthony Mullen, the 2009 National Teacher of the Year, urged educators to stick up for unions and stand up for students in the face of tremendous economic challenging and stressful times.

“America’s teachers and education support professionals live in very challenging and stressful times,” said Mullen. Despite tempting opportunities to embark in other professions with higher pay and better benefits, he noted, “We stayed with our students because we believe that education and our nation’s children were too valuable to be abandoned for a new sports car or a vacation in Bali.”

Mullen, a special education teacher at the ARCH School, an alternative education branch of Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Conn., was chosen for this prestigious title because of his innovative approach, community focus and teamwork.

“Frontline educators like Mullen will help lead a transformation of our public schools and prepare students for the 21st century,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “His ability to instill a love of learning among his students and motivate them to reach for the stars is an inspiration to all gathered here and to teachers nationwide.”

Of particular concern to Mr. Mullen are the nearly 1 million students who will drop out of the nation’s schools. “Shouldn’t these shocking statistics be treated as a national crisis rather than a postscript to a failed education?” he asked. “Hasn’t the time arrived to place some perspective on the priorities of American education?” Mullen will travel throughout the nation promoting the teaching profession and advocating for the rights of all children, including the fundamental rights of every child to graduate from high school.

The former New York City police officer recalled his own transformation that took him from dealing with “a pair of handcuffs for a pair of notebooks.” Mullen decided to pursue teaching to “be part of a profession that enabled me to be more proactive rather than reactive in the lives of young people destined to drop out of school or to spend their lives in a prison cell.”

The National Teacher of the Year program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers and is sponsored by the ING Foundation. The program focuses public attention on teaching excellence and is the oldest and most prestigious award program for teachers.

Please visit www.nea.org to access a transcript of Mr. Mullen’s remarks.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional 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: Miguel A. Gonzalez  (202) 822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org