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NEA Supports Innovation, Urges Course Corrections on Race to the Top

Collaboration is key to long-term success

WASHINGTON - January 19, 2010 -

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama announced plans today to expand “Race to the Top,” a grant competition for education reform, during an event at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Va.  The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“The National Education Association shares the Obama administration’s goal of fostering innovation and reform to close the gaps in achievement and opportunity in our nation’s schools.  NEA’s 3.2 million members have been part of numerous successful, targeted efforts to create optimal conditions for student learning and to develop and implement successful strategies to turn around struggling schools.

“As the Administration has recognized, educators are key partners in every successful education reform effort.  The importance of collaboration must be emphasized in Race to the Top discussions and applications if the federal money is to be used efficiently and effectively.

“In light of decimated state budgets, the Administration must place more emphasis on fostering sustainability of reforms generated by Race to the Top.  State and local partners must receive assurances and guidance that would increase the likelihood of sustained reforms beyond the next four years.

“While NEA supports the overarching goals of Race to the Top and its inclusion in the federal budget, the Administration must provide more detailed guidance and clarifications on how the program affects state and local laws, policies and agreements affecting school personnel.  We urge the Administration to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the first phase of Race to the Top with input from national, state and local stakeholders and make necessary course corrections.  If done right, we believe Race to the Top grants could accelerate education reform at the state and local levels and go a long way toward ensuring great public schools for every student.” 

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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: Staci Maiers (202) 822-7823,