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NEA president draws attention to family, community involvement in schools

Two-day summit highlights importance of community support in ESEA reauthorization

WASHINGTON - September 14, 2010 -

The National Education Association (NEA) today wrapped up a National Summit on Family, School and Community Engagement that brought together representatives from 20 other national organizations. A key focus of the conversation over the two days was the need to press for strong provisions on community, parental and school engagement when Congress works on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  This national event was a culmination of community engagement summits held in various states over the past 12 months.

"As educators, we know that the development of the whole child extends beyond the walls of the classroom," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  "We must harness the coordinated power of social services, parental engagement, service-learning opportunities for students, extended learning and afterschool programs to ensure our children's success."

Summit participants, who came from organizations from the National PTA to the Boys and Girls Clubs and state elected leaders, discussed ideas for boosting community and parental involvement in schools that serve our neediest students. NEA members across the country are rolling up their sleeves and doing their part. NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign is the Association’s commitment to transforming persistently low-performing, priority schools into great public schools for everyone. Educators are already working side-by-side with students, parents and community leaders to attract and keep the best educators and necessary resources at schools with the greatest need, typically schools in high poverty communities that are chronically underfunded, understaffed and unsupported.

“For long-term, sustainable school transformation, shared responsibility and collaboration are both essential,” said Van Roekel. “All stakeholders must be at the table, working together for the benefit of students. We need to keep parents and the community involved from pre-k through high school to ensure success.”

“It’s important to develop a statewide plan that gets families, schools, businesses and policymakers together, which can be used as a model at the federal level,” said Rebecca Valdez, a member of the Nebraska State Board of Education. “Businesses should be encouraged by governors to provide four days of annual devoted to workers to participate in parental involvement activities.”

On Monday, 2006 National Teacher of the Year Kimberly Oliver Burnim led a conversation about the roles played by teachers and the communities in which they teach. Oliver Burnim, an educator at Broad Acres Elementary School in Rockville, Md., emphasized the importance of taking a broader view of supporting student learning.

“We have to look at kids holistically, outside of the classroom and inside, and engage everyone involved in a child’s life in the learning process,” said Oliver Burnim. “We have to meet their other needs …and give children the message that we believe in them and that they can do it.”

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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: Samantha Kappalman  (202) 316-3980,