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NEA President: Long-term benefits of affirmative action have ‘profound impact on the way society functions.’

WASHINGTON - June 24, 2013 -

In a move that came as a surprise to many observers, the Supreme Court today sent Fisher v. University of Texas—a case that would have decided the future of affirmative action programs—back to the lower courts. National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement:

“This decision leaves intact the legal framework that protects affirmative action, so we are pleased. And while we are disappointed that the Court did not completely affirm the University of Texas’ modest affirmative action program we are also heartened by the Court’s recognition that obtaining racially diverse classrooms can be a compelling government interest.

“This decision allows the conversation to continue, and our hope is that the benefits that come from racial diversity in education will become evident as institutions of higher education continue to pursue these critical programs.

“NEA partnered with People for the American Way and a coalition of unions (including the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) to submit an amicus brief that highlighted the impressive body of research showing that affirmative action programs in education not only help address existing discrimination, but also plant the seed for a better, more just society.

“We will continue to vigorously defend the use of affirmative action to produce truly diverse classrooms, ones in which all students are provided an equal educational opportunity to learn how to succeed in our increasingly diverse society. It’s important because the long-term benefits set in motion by programs like the one at the University of Texas at Austin have such a real and profound impact on the way society functions.

“Additionally, this case reminds us how important our role is as educators and education advocates. We must fight for the investments that will drive change, value diversity, and acheive equity. Together, we need to ensure that all our students have what they need to succeed.”

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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: Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7150,