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NEA president calls for a new, national education initiative

PHILADELPHIA -- National Education Association President Reg Weaver is calling for a new, national education initiative to develop the nation's human capital and keep America competitive in the 21st century. The proposal would involve closing tax loopholes to strengthen the nation's investment in education at all levels. The project is called the Extension Service for Knowledge, Information and Development, or KIDs.

"Most states are trying to adapt to a changing economy by offering tax cuts to industries that promise to create jobs -- promises that often go unfilled," Weaver said.  "We are placing our economic future not in the hands of our children, but in big corporations."

Weaver detailed his plan before more than 9,000 delegates during NEA's Representative Assembly in Philadelphia. The plan would provide grassroots support to local schools and businesses by creating economic development centers at major universities. The centers would conduct research and develop innovations in businesses. That knowledge and expertise would be available at local schools and through local extension agents. The proposal is modeled after the successful Agriculture Extension Program, which provided farmers with advice and assistance to produce more goods in less time, with less land.

Weaver said that tax breaks to attract industry cost states more than $50 billion a year. Federal tax loopholes for businesses cost our nation another $50 billion. Weaver noted that the KIDs program provides a better approach.  "A program like this would empower millions of entrepreneurs across the U.S. to start businesses and create jobs," Weaver added. "It would fuel new research, strengthen our universities and improve our public schools. This is the kind of commitment our nation needs and our children and grandchildren deserve."

Weaver's July 2nd keynote address kicked off the Representative Assembly, NEA's highest decision-making body. During the annual event, delegates vote on critical issues facing public education. This year's RA is especially significant because NEA is celebrating its 150th anniversary. The Association was founded in Philadelphia.

Weaver urged the Association, as it returned to the place of its founding and the cradle of American liberty, to push for an Education Bill of Rights that would fulfill students' basic rights to necessities like universal pre-school, full-day kindergarten, adequate and equitable funding for resources, small class sizes and multiple measures to determine student learning instead of a high-stakes test.

"We are continuing to wage a ceaseless struggle to expand education opportunities for every child," said Weaver.  "We are, and must remain, a force for change."

For more coverage:  www.nea.org/