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NEA President: Disturbing data should serve as call to action

Van Roekel responds to Education Department’s civil rights data

WASHINGTON - March 06, 2012 -

Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released data showing that minority students face disparities regarding curricula, teacher experience and discipline.  The National Education Association (NEA) is pleased that the Department is working to address civil rights and equity issues.

“Releasing the data is only the first step,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA and a member of the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. “The quality of education should not be determined by race or income.  The disparities highlighted in this report should serve as a call to action for all of us. To educate the whole child, we need to meet students where they are and involve the entire community in removing the obstacles that hinder their overall well-being and academic success.”

Schools need the resources to help address students’ unique circumstances such as: learning English in addition to other coursework, being homeless, or being caught in a cycle of generational poverty.  Through its Priority Schools Campaign, NEA is leading efforts to provide on-site, targeted support and resources.

Many high-poverty schools are chronically underfunded, understaffed and don’t have the resources needed to recruit and retain experienced teachers. NEA has long supported additional compensation for educators in hard-to-staff schools. 

“I look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Arne Duncan to examine disparities, uncover persistent school climate challenges and most importantly, help develop solutions that work for all students, not just those from affluent neighborhoods,” added Van Roekel. “We’re deeply committed to the success of each student, and NEA has long advocated for equity in schools across America. All students need great teachers and access to a challenging and comprehensive curriculum, and they deserve to be treated fairly.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Ramona Parks-Kirby  (202) 822-7823,