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NEA honors Sen. Garcia, a champion for children

WASHINGTON - June 23, 2011 -

State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia will be honored by the National Education Association (NEA) at its annual Human and Civil Rights Awards dinner to be held in Chicago on July 1. The New Mexico senator will receive NEA’s Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award.

“America’s public schools badly need public officials who understand the needs of our students and work to secure the resources educators need to fulfill students’ academic potential,” said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president. “Sen. Mary Jane Garcia is such an official.”

“Our Reg Weaver Award is all about helping poor children, and Sen. Garcia has a remarkable record of achievement when it comes to improving the education and health of poor children,” added Van Roekel. (The NEA award is named for Weaver, a classroom teacher who served as NEA president from 2002 to 2008.)

Garcia comes from Doña Ana County, which borders Mexico, has Las Cruces as its county, and is 285 miles south of Santa Fe. She has been a staunch advocate for more funding for public schools and a strong opponent of vouchers that would siphon funds from public schools to support private schools. She also has supported  increasing, by more than $6 million, funds for college scholarships for low-income students.

In addition, the senator was instrumental in passing the Subdivision Reform Act, which addresses the need for basic utilities such as running water and sewer systems in the so-called colonias, unincorporated communities with high concentrations of poor Latinos, mainly of Mexican descent. Garcia has also championed legislation that would outlaw human trafficking, impose life sentences for deadly child abuse, and require that missing children be reported within 24 hours of their disappearance.

Mary Jane Garcia has served in the state legislature since 1988 and has been Senate Majority Whip since 1997—a tribute to the high esteem in which her colleagues hold her.  She is a good friend of NEA-New Mexico.

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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: Dana Dossett  (202) 822-7823,