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2012: A Year of Choice and Commitment

By NEA President Dennis Van Roekel

Anew year is always a time to take stock and assess the challenges ahead. For our Association, 2012 promises to be as important as any year in NEA's history.

 This is an election year, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the future of public education will be determined by the outcome of the presidential election and other races. In fact, I think that would actually be an understatement, because something much broader is at stake.

 Over the past 30 years the middle class has been treading water, struggling to hold on to what they have, while a small group amassed more and more wealth. The richest one percent in our nation controls more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. This economic imbalance is simply not sustainable if we want our grandchildren to enjoy the kind of opportunities that were afforded to most of us.

The 2012 election will present a clear choice between two starkly different visions for our nation. Some are content with an economy that works for a few, but we demand a fair deal for the middle class.

 The election will also determine whether we see more attacks on public education and educators, as happened last year in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, and other states. Anti-labor forces would like to escalate these attacks to a national scale, and at least one candidate for president has already said he would sign a national "right-to-work" law.

 Our members showed their strength and commitment last year in overturning the anti-labor law in Ohio and recalling some anti-labor legislators in Wisconsin. We must maintain that energy and commitment this year—in fact, we must step up our efforts wherever possible.

 We must also channel that same level of energy into transforming public education, as many members are already doing in our Priority Schools Campaign and other places. There is much exciting work going on across the nation, and that will continue as NEA helps transform the teaching profession and accelerate student learning through the "Leading the Profession" initiative.

The stakes are high this year, but I believe that we will prevail. The facts are on our side, and if we do a good job laying out the choices, I believe the American people will choose our vision.

Stay informed on the latest issues affecting public education and learn how you can shape the future of education in 2012.

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