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Labor Day Message from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel

WASHINGTON - September 02, 2013 -

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel issued the following statement in recognition of Labor Day.

“It’s fitting that Labor Day comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., firmly embraced and spoke eloquently about the fundamental link connecting education, social and economic justice.

“Dr. King’s fundamental belief in the power of education to lift up people and advance the rights of workers is what motivated tens of thousands of Americans—including many educators who witnessed history 50 years ago—to gather in Washington last week to honor his legacy and continue to advance the dream.

“Fifty years after Dr. King called upon our nation to open the doors of opportunity, too many children of color still don’t enjoy equal opportunities in education. For those of us who share Dr. King’s dream, that is unacceptable. In our nation today, a student from a high-income family is seven times more likely to enroll in an elite college than a student from a low-income family.

“As we pause, reflect and mark Labor Day, I urge all Americans to join NEA—the nation’s largest labor union—in our fight for equal opportunity in education and in our pursuit to advance the dream. We know the road to economic opportunity runs right through our nation’s public schools, and we must stand strong for our students and for great public schools to help close those divides.

“The story of America is the story of its working people—their struggles and successes and their hopes for a better future for themselves and their families. On Labor Day, and every day, we celebrate their contributions to our society, those struggles and successes, including those of public school workers.

“NEA has a long and robust tradition of working for social justice and for students and public education. The vast majority of our nation’s educators also are proud union members. We are the union members who drive students to school, serve their meals, heal their wounds, help them cross the street, and comfort and protect them in times of crisis. We are dedicated to educating the next generation of Americans.

We urge all Americans to join us in this fight so we can open the doors of opportunity for all children.”

To celebrate Labor Day,
NEA has compiled a list of resources for educators and parents. NEA’s resources include historical timelines of the labor movement, lesson plans and research pieces examining the need for continued work on behalf of the American worker. Visit

Follow the conversation at @NEAMedia.

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The National Education Association ( is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, 202-822-7823,