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NEA President to Congress: 'Economic recovery starts in the classroom'

Investing in education will preserve jobs, reduce unemployment

WASHINGTON - March 09, 2010 - Recovery of the American economy will not be possible unless education becomes a higher priority, said the president of the nation’s largest labor union while testifying before a Senate committee today. 

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association which represents 3.2 million educators, told members of the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions that there is an inextricable link between investing in education and building a strong, competitive nation.

“An investment in education is the long-term answer to solving America’s economic woes,” said Van Roekel.  “Higher earnings of educated workers mean higher tax payments at the local, state and federal levels.  Investing in education will help prevent harmful cuts in programs, preserve jobs and reduce soaring unemployment rates.”

Van Roekel’s testimony comes as Congress gets ready to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), more commonly known as the No Child Left Behind Act.  NEA has developed guidelines for changing the law so it helps schools improve education and close achievement gaps and can renew the promise to America’s children.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce,” said Van Roekel.  “We must address the opportunity gaps to strengthen our economy and build the educated workforce necessary to compete in the global economy of the 21st century.  We cannot leave a generation of students behind by continuing to deny them the best education this country has to offer.”

“Children are not experiments,” added Van Roekel.  “Policies on accountability, assessments and transforming low performing schools into great public schools should follow research—not dogma.”

For more information about NEA’s position on ESEA, visit

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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) 822-7823,

(click to watch video)

NEA Pres. Dennis Van Roekel testifies
(click to watch slideshow)


NEA President Dennis Van Roekel's written testimony to Congress

NEA Today coverage of President Dennis Van Roekel's testimony

NEA principles for ESEA reauthorization

Education and the economy

Read news coverage of the testimony at