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NEA president tells educators "No More Excuses"

ORLANDO, Fla. — Everyone has a responsibility to protect the basic right of all children to a quality public education, including fixing and funding the so-called No Child Left Behind Act, the president of the National Education Association told 9,000 educators.

"There are no more excuses," said Reg Weaver, NEA president. "There are no more excuses for schools where the textbooks and technology are as old as the parents of some of the children. There are no more excuses for parents being absent when it comes to not only educating their children, but rearing their children. There are no more excuses for children and students who are not learning. Every American has a shared responsibility to create quality public schools, and no American should tolerate any excuses for why educators aren’t given the tools and resources they need to get the job done."

Weaver urged educators to remember why they entered the profession.  "Public education only has room for those who have a passion for teaching and learning.  Public education only has room for those who are truly committed.  Public education only has room for those who believe that every child can learn and that great public schools are the basic right of every child."

Weaver addressed delegates representing teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and other education employees gathered in Orlando, Fla., for NEA’s 144th Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly. The NEA Representative Assembly is the largest democratic decision-making body in the world.  During the annual event, delegates vote on critical issues facing public education.

Weaver said access to fully-funded pre-kindergarten programs would help at-risk children level the academic playing field and realize the joy of learning at an early age. Such programs, he insisted, would be the foundation on which to move many children from poverty, ignorance, drugs and fear to a life of achievement and success.

Weaver told delegates that there is no doubt that public education faces challenges. He pointed to cuts pending in Congress that would reduce spending on the already-underfunded No Child Left Behind Act by almost $500 million, on top of last year’s cut of over $1 billion. He also cited the one-size-fits-all approach to education promoted in the No Child Left Behind that forces educators to teach to the test, and hinders their ability to cater to student needs.

"NEA members have a responsibility to educate the community about education," Weaver said. "We have a responsibility to inform them of the role of school boards, state legislators, mayors, the U.S. Congress and why it is important that they make it their personal responsibility to hold each of these individuals as accountable as they do us."

Weaver stressed that the Association has focused its efforts on five strategic goals: closing the gaps in student achievement between white and minority students; reaching out to ethnic communities; creating a plan for reforming  unfunded mandates during the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act; ensuring that teachers have a minimum salary of $40,000 and providing a living wage for education support professionals, like bus drivers and custodians; expanding membership to offer support to more education employees and working to achieve adequacy and equity in public school funding.

For more information and a full listing of scheduled events:  www.nea.org/annualmeeting

NEA media release