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NEA president demands that educator voices be heard

Van Roekel travels to Wisconsin to demonstrate support of 3.2 million NEA members

MADISON - February 17, 2011 -

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel is in Wisconsin today meeting with Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) President Mary Bell and WEAC members to let them know that the Association’s 3.2 million members are solidly behind them in their efforts to stand up for Wisconsin’s working families.

“I came here today to support our members, teachers and educators who are speaking up for public schools and the middle class.  Our members are standing up to make sure that they have a seat at the table when decisions are made about schools and the quality of education,” said Van Roekel.  “Let there be no mistake: the views of teachers reflect their commitment to students.  Educators are eager to offer their ideas and insight about how to help students succeed.  To silence the voice of teachers can only diminish all of our work to make public schools great for all students.”
Acknowledging Wisconsin’s financial challenges, Van Roekel said the state needs strong and visionary leadership.  “We need solutions, not scapegoats,” he said. “Gov. Walker can’t solve Wisconsin’s problems by himself.  Wisconsin teachers and educators are ready to join in the work on solutions.  That is the essence of the ‘Wisconsin Idea’ and American ideals.”
“Sadly, Wisconsin isn’t the only place where there is a concerted effort on the part of some politicians and corporate leaders to weaken or eliminate the middle class,” Van Roekel said. “Instead of repaying the CEOs and big donors who contributed to their campaigns, we have to hold these elected leaders accountable to do what is in the best interests of working people – not a few wealthy and powerful individuals.”
“Middle class workers and their families are not asking for special treatment,” Van Roekel said.  “I know that teachers and public employees love Wisconsin and are willing to help shoulder the state’s financial burdens, but they are not willing to give up their voice. We need balance and shared sacrifice. We need leaders who will come up with solutions that will strengthen state economies and create jobs.  In fact, Gov. Walker’s plan won’t make Wisconsin stronger – it would increase the state’s long-term debt – and it won’t create any new jobs.”  
“I extend my heartfelt thanks to the working men and women of Wisconsin for refusing to bow to individuals and special interests who want to dismantle the rights of working Americans and the stability of middle class families. NEA stands proudly with you and together – we will not be silent or denied,” Van Roekel said.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee 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:  Staci Maiers  (202) 822-7150,

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