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NEA: education debate is about ideas and moving America forward

Educators are turning hope into action every day in schools across the country


WASHINGTON - December 07, 2010 -

Controversial former District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee launched a new political advocacy group this week. Rhee resigned her position in October after Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid.

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

“We welcome debate over the best approaches to strengthen our schools. This debate is about ideas, not about adults pointing fingers at each other. It is about how all of us can help our students and move America forward. We hope that Michelle Rhee and her new organization will focus on constructive ideas that serve the interests of all students.

“Schools across the country are undergoing change, and NEA is at the forefront of innovative and creative collaborations to improve schools for all students.  Nationally and locally, educators are turning hope into action in the nation’s schools -- one student at a time, one school at a time, one community at a time.

“Change is happening in California, where our affiliate supports a program that is boosting achievement for thousands of at-risk students. In Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, our union is working to create effective evaluation system for teachers and principals, aiming for stronger student performance, stronger public schools and students better prepared to compete in a global and interdependent world.

“In Putnam City West High School in Oklahoma City, our union has engaged parents and the community to increase the graduation rate of Hispanic students by 70 percent. In Denver, our union is playing a leading role at the Math and Science Leadership Academy, one of the nation's first union- and teacher-led schools. There are many other examples of dynamic change in public schools.

“Nobody has a monopoly on putting students first. Preparing students for the 21st century does require collaboration, respecting the voice of educators, and making an honest commitment to transforming public education.”

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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