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NEA president applauds Duncan’s renewed emphasis on civil rights enforcement

WASHINGTON - March 08, 2010 -

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today that the number of high school dropouts in this country is the “civil rights issue of our generation.”  To that end, he said that the department would enforce civil rights laws in education that have been overlooked in the last decade.

The following statement may be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“NEA applauds the Department of Education’s decision to step up the enforcement of civil rights laws in education to ensure that school districts across the country know their responsibilities to fairness and equal opportunity. 

“In 2008, NEA unveiled its plan to transform all public schools by 2020. A critical component of that plan included redefining the federal role in education. In particular, NEA stressed the importance of protecting and achieving equal access for students to services and supports they need to be successful.

“The federal government has a vital role to play in advancing the quality of America’s public schools. As such, we are pleased to see the federal government embracing its role as a supporter of district and state responsibilities by strengthening enforcement of civil rights laws in order to promote access and opportunity. Much more remains to be done, and we look forward to seeing an increased emphasis on equity of opportunity as Congress moves toward the reauthorization of ESEA.”

To read more about NEA’s 2008 Priority Schools by 2020 white paper, visit:

For more information on the Department of Education’s announcement, visit:


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: Samantha Kappalman  (202) 822-7823,