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NEA president calls on Florida lawmakers to invest in children and stop attacks

NEA's 2011 Back-to-School Tour ends in Miami


MIAMI - September 15, 2011 -

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel concluded the Association’s Standing Strong for Students Back-to-School Tour Thursday in Miami. The national education leader stressed the importance of collaboration to ensure student success. During his visit he spoke with key education stakeholders to discuss how they could work together to support students. Miami was Van Roekel’s second stop in Florida, a state where education funding and programs are plummeting.

“This annual tour is about putting faces and names to the stories we’re hearing about the devastating effects of cuts to education budgets nationwide on our students and educators,” Van Roekel said.  “Education is the foundation for building a successful future, but lawmakers are chipping away at its core. Cuts hurt children and we cannot sacrifice their futures by shortchanging them. This economic downturn may last a year or two, but our kids only have one year to be a fifth grader. Their experience shouldn’t be diminished.”

Van Roekel toured the Young Men’s Preparatory Academy, the district’s first single gender prep magnet public high school. YMPA’s physical appearance and curriculum are tailored to boys’ learning patterns. 

Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall and United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz joined NEA’s president for the Miami school visits and for a press conference where they decried legislative attacks on unions and state workers.

Aronowitz says budget cuts and the 3 percent pay cut in take-home pay has hit the district’s schools hard. “Our educators are doing yeoman’s work for our students,” Aronowitz said.  “You can’t keep taking from teachers and have them be able to continue to sustain themselves and their own families. Teachers are parents as well, so we’re trying to do right by students and our own children.”

Former Florida Sen. Majority Leader Alex Villalobos stood alongside the veteran educators, saying, “this past [legislative] session was not about education, it was about the vilification of public employees — particularly teachers. We’re not going to improve education one iota if we don’t truly focus on education itself. Please hold my colleagues in the legislature more accountable.”

The Standing Strong for Students Back-to-School tour took Van Roekel and NEA Secretary Treasurer Becky Pringle to schools in seven cities, September 12-15th. They received first-hand views of schools and strategies to improve student learning that can be replicated across the country. In addition to Miami, the NEA leaders visited Orlando, Fla., Evansville, Ind., Romulus, Mich., Las Vegas, Nev., Dayton, Ohio and Seattle, Wash.

Check throughout the day for photos of the tour here.
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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: Sara Robertson  (202) 822-7266; srobertson@nea.org