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NEA president congratulates Sen. Harkin on becoming chair of Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee

WASHINGTON - September 10, 2009 -

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel today congratulated Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) on becoming the chair of the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee. He succeeds longtime friend of education Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who died last month.

The following statement can be attributed to Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president:

“The National Education Association, representing 3.2 million educators across America, congratulates Sen. Tom Harkin on his appointment as chairman of the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee. 

“NEA and the Iowa State Education Association have been honored to work with Sen. Harkin from his first election to the U.S. House of Representatives and throughout his years in the House and Senate on a wide variety of issues of critical importance to educators and the students they serve. 

“Our members greatly appreciate his tireless efforts to secure full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; increase resources for school construction to ensure a safe, modern learning environment for every student; provide all children access to the nutrition necessary for success in school; and guarantee all Americans access to affordable health care, as well as his unwavering and unparalleled support for America’s working families and organized labor. 

“We are very pleased to have such a passionate advocate for our nation’s most vulnerable populations in this critical leadership role, particularly given the unprecedented health care and education challenges the committee currently faces. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Harkin and offer our support as he takes on this new role.”

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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: Miguel A. Gonzalez
September 10, 2009  (202) 822-7823,