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Educators welcome President Obama’s focus on education and opportunity

State of the Union shines spotlight on pressing issues facing students, educators and schools

WASHINGTON - February 12, 2013 -

President Barack Obama tonight addressed the nation in the fourth State of the Union address of his presidency. NEA issued the following statement from its president, Dennis Van Roekel:

“President Barack Obama set a strong tone and outlined a common-sense agenda to strengthen the middle class, address issues facing working Americans, and move this country forward with an economy that works for everyone. We agree with the president that making education and students a priority is an economic imperative. The president knows that the road to economic prosperity and helping those aspiring to join the middle class runs directly through our nation’s public schools.

“Education creates opportunity. Investing in early childhood education, making college more affordable and supporting career pathways in community colleges are essential parts of our nation’s unbending commitment to educational excellence. Now is the time to start making smart investments that will benefit students and the nation in the future.

“We are encouraged that the president chose to shine a spotlight on the pressing issues that affect educators and the nation’s students—impending across-the-board budget cuts, gun violence and immigration—during the State of the Union address. These issues have a dramatic impact on our students, our classrooms and America’s future.

“We join the president in calling on Congress to enact sound fiscal policies that create jobs, promote fairness and prosperity, and rebuild the middle class. With the looming March 1 deadline that could trigger across-the-board budget cuts, Congress has to put partisan politics aside and seek a more balanced approach to get our nation’s fiscal house in order without inflicting irreversible harm on our nation’s 50 million students and risking their future—while allowing corporations and the wealthiest to pay their fair share by closing tax loopholes.

“We echo the president’s urgent call to keep our students and their campuses safer. Educators and the nation have grieved too long and too often—for the children killed, their families and the heroic educators who gave their lives trying to protect their students. What our students need is a well-rounded education—in safe and secure campuses—to prepare them to compete in the global economy.

“Educators stand with President Obama and the growing chorus of voices, calling on Congress to create a common-sense immigration process for aspiring Americans, one that includes a roadmap for immigrants to become citizens, allows DREAMers to earn citizenship and unites families. The more than three million educators of the National Education Association stand ready to work with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to help move the president’s agenda forward.”

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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:  Miguel A. Gonzalez, 202-822-7823,