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NEA President stops in San Antonio on back-to-school tour

SAN ANTONIO, TX - August 27, 2010 -

The National Education Association’s (NEA) back-to-school tour made a stop in San Antonio today. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel visited Highland Park Elementary School and toured its prekindergarten program.

NEA is a strong proponent of quality, early childhood education and recognizes its positive effects. Various researchers have documented the fact that early childhood education results in improved academic capabilities and better social and emotional development. Children who attend prekindergarten are less likely to drop out of school, repeat grades, or need special education services. Full-day kindergarten helps close achievement gaps.

“Quality early childhood education programs provide the building blocks on which students can build a solid academic foundation,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “They can open the door to a lifetime of learning and academic achievement.”

The week-long, multi-city tour runs August 23-27. In addition to getting school staff energized about the upcoming school year, Van Roekel is highlighting examples of public school innovation, partnerships, and teacher- and union-led school transformation efforts. He will look at ideas, strategies and improvements and explore how they can be replicated in other places.

Van Roekel was joined at Highland Park Elementary by Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) President Rita Haecker, San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel President Shelley Potter and Executive Vice President Gracie Oviedo.

“The Texas State Teachers Association is happy to welcome NEA President Dennis Van Roekel to Texas for a first-hand look at some of the accomplishments and challenges of Texas educators,” TSTA President Rita Haecker said. “His meeting with educators and parents in San Antonio this morning was very productive. As they begin a new school year, Texas teachers and support professionals have a lot of hard work ahead of them in a time of budgetary challenges for school districts. But with the support of the NEA and its 3.2 million members, we will continue our strong service for the school children and taxpayers of Texas.”

The beginning of the school year, always an important time for students and educators, is also a good time to engage parents and the community. And that’s important because research shows that parent, family, and community involvement correlates with higher academic performance and school improvement. When parents are engaged in their children’s education, students are more motivated, they get better grades, and they are less likely to drop out.

“Everyone gets excited during back-to-school time, but we have to come up with creative yet practical ways to sustain that energy all year long,” said NEA’s Van Roekel. “We want parents involved throughout the school year and at every grade level.”

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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: Ramona Parks-Kirby  (202) 368-0575,