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Millions of educators mark historic presidential inauguration

NEA engages members and students in a range of inaugural activities

WASHINGTON - January 20, 2009 -

The 3.2 million members of the National Education Association joined in celebrating the inauguration of the nation’s 44th president, Barack Obama, and the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From teaching specially prepared inaugural lessons to participating in the inaugural parade and from community service projects across the country and to encouraging their students to write letters to President Obama, NEA members were advancing the message of great public schools for every student. 

Dear Mr. President Project

NEA is partnering with kidthing to launch the “Dear Mr. President Project.” Kidthing, a free digital media player, allows kids to download and read books, play games and watch videos using a computer.

“Children of all ages have some ideas they would like to share with the incoming president,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “Because of NEA’s exclusive partnership with kidthing, students now have a unique opportunity to write their own piece of history when they participate in the ‘Dear Mr. President Project.’”

Through the kidthing Web site, children can submit letters and drawings expressing their hopes, dreams and ideas to President-elect Obama.  Due to popular demand, the deadline for entries was extended from Inauguration Day to January 27, 2009.  Students can learn more at

Inauguration Instructional Guides for Educators

The historical significance of President-elect Obama’s inauguration is a teachable moment for generations to come.  The instructional guides, developed jointly by a team of curriculum experts from NEA and American Federation of Teachers, are designed to teach students about the history of Inauguration Day, and they include information about the 2009 Inaugural schedule of events and background on traditional Inaugural ceremonies. The guides also provide suggestions for supplementing the lessons with discussion topics, films, books and other educational websites.

“It is crucial that our students understand that we are not only living history and making history with this inauguration, but also carrying forward the historical contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his influence on our incoming 44th president,” said Van Roekel. “These important lesson plans will help students understand President-elect Obama’s message of a 'sense of unity and shared purpose' into the next four years and beyond.”

The instructional guides are divided into three sections: “Learning History,” which highlights the evolution of Inaugural events beginning with George Washington’s Inauguration in 1789, “Making History,” which allows students to follow along with President-elect Obama’s swearing in on January 20, and “Living History,” which encourages students to continue studying the American Government and the Presidency beyond Inauguration Day. The materials are geared toward students from elementary school to high school, and offer lesson modifications based on the students’ ages.  The special edition inauguration instructional guides can be downloaded at and

Day of Community Service

Nearly 1,500 student NEA members heeded the call of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by participating in activities and events designed to give back to their communities.  From hosting canned food drives and packaging meals for local homeless shelters to picking up trash at local schools, parks and recreational centers, members of the NEA Student Program joined President-elect Obama and his family, along with millions nationwide, who are putting community first.

In 2004, Congress helped launch an initiative that would make community service integral to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For 15 years, the holiday also has been known as the annual King Day of Service.  More information on the NEA Student Program can be found online at

An Unprecedented Salute to Labor
More than 40 NEA members will join the AFL-CIO and Change to Win as part of a 265-member ensemble that represents every face of working America.  The 2009 inauguration marks the first time in history that representatives from America’s labor unions have been invited to march in the official parade.

“NEA and its members are proud to join AFL-CIO and Change to Win in this first-ever labor-sponsored inauguration parade unit,” said Van Roekel. “The ‘America’s Workers United for Change’ parade unit, including the participation of 43 public school employees, provides organized labor the opportunity to emphasize the important role of America’s workers in helping to renew America’s promise.”

For more information on NEA’s inaugural activities, please go to:

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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: Staci Maiers
 (202) 822-7823,