Duncan hears from NEA members on education reform

July 2, 2009 (202) 822-7823, wpotter@nea.org

Education Secretary Duncan hears from NEA members on education reform

Education secretary addresses more than 7,000 NEA members at Annual Meeting

WASHINGTON—Education Secretary Arne Duncan told NEA members that educators must be at the table for any discussions about transforming America’s public schools. Duncan addressed more than 7,000 educators as part of a town hall exchange at the NEA’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, and heard their views on how to best ensure that every student has access to a quality public education.

“I know we won’t all agree on everything, but I’m confident there will be more we agree with than not,” Duncan said. “It starts with our shared values. We believe it is our moral obligation to give children the very best education possible. We believe every child can learn and every school can succeed. We believe teaching is a profession, and good teachers and principals are essential to success.”

Duncan said schools must be the hub of communities, the federal government must increase the number of national certified teachers, and “a union of educators is a positive force that can drive the kind of change that many of our schools need.”

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel noted that he recently visited schools in New York and Connecticut where he saw what change is possible when there is a strong collaborative relationship among the teachers’ association, the school district and community partners.

“The best way to achieve results is for local unions and other partners to collaborate locally, while thinking globally about what students need to succeed,” Van Roekel said. “I believe that most teachers do an outstanding job, but that shouldn’t stop us from working together to find out what works best.”

Duncan spoke with NEA members on the eve of the opening of their 147th Annual Meeting and 88th Representative Assembly. The RA is the highest decision-making body within the over 3.2 million-member NEA and with nearly 10,000 delegates, it is also the world's largest democratic deliberative body.

During the question and answer period, many NEA members noted how educators are on the front lines dealing with the real-world implications of education policy, and know better than anyone what works best in the classroom.

“You can’t have great public schools without great teachers,” Van Roekel said. “We need to have educators at the table, helping all teachers become as good as they can be. Secretary Duncan should be applauded for seeking the input of NEA members. Educators know what their students and schools need, and we look forward to working with him. We have an unprecedented opportunity to improve public schools for all students.”

For additional information, please visit www.nea.org/duncan.

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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.

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