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Statement from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel on the International Summit on the Teaching Profession

Teachers’ unions are key players in many high-performing nations

WASHINGTON - March 15, 2011 -

“This International Summit on the Teaching Profession is an historic event. Eighteen nations—many of the highest performing and fastest improving school systems—are coming together to share in open, honest and productive dialogue about how to improve their education systems. This global meeting gives us a rare opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with other countries.

“Many of the countries that earned top scores in the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), such as Finland and Canada, are known for their high regard for teachers and their profession. These countries promote high standards and rigorous preparation for entry into the teaching profession, and then they support their teachers with ongoing quality professional development.

“It’s worth noting that these countries also have strong teachers’ unions, underscoring the fact that unions do have an important and positive role to play both in upholding the profession and transforming schools.

“Here and in other countries, collective bargaining has proven to be an effective means to bring together management, teachers and school support professionals who use the negotiations process to identify problems and agree upon solutions. The bottom line is that when educators and others collaborate, students benefit.”

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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: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,


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