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NEA everywhere: we are the right people, in the right places, at the right time. And we have the right ideas for public education.

I wish first to thank the delegates to the 2002 Representative Assembly for their trust and confidence in electing me NEA President. I am committed to doing all that I can to ensure that our Association steps forward as a focused, united, member-driven, image-enhanced, community-involved, and politically bipartisan leader in the fight to ensure a quality public education for all children and students.

Today's education landscape dictates that we get right down to business. The opponents of public education are engaged in a crusade to destroy trust and confidence in America's public schools. The urgency of this threat dictates that we move beyond polite conversations to meaningful action. We must mobilize an unprecedented response to public education's unprecedented challenges.

The Supreme Court's decision this summer has energized the advocates of vouchers. The Court has given the green light to privatizing public education--turning the education of our children into a commercial, for-profit concern. Let us be clear: Vouchers are bad public policy, and we are steadfast in our resolve to stop the voucher movement through community and political advocacy. We were not successful in the Supreme Court, but we will succeed in the court of public opinion--a court that convenes in our neighborhoods and communities, and whose verdict will carry the day.

This year, we have been presented with a new federal education law--the so-called "Leave No Child Behind Act"--that was developed largely without the input of teachers and support professionals on the front lines. We propose a different approach to education reform: Reform developed collaboratively with those who will be held accountable for its success. Reform that is developed with us, not for us. Reform that will truly succeed in leaving no child behind.

My friends, we are 2.7 million members strong--one in every 100 Americans. NEA is everywhere. We are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles in the communities of the very policymakers who have neglected to consult us, to respect us, to support us. We need to seize every opportunity to educate our communities as to who we are as an Association and what we stand for. We must enlist our communities in our defense of public education. And when they respond with active support for public education--especially on Election Day--then we will see positive results from our policymakers.

We offer a powerful vision--a vision that is at the heart of the American dream: the right of every child to a quality public education, free from fear or intimidation, in an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. In other words, our vision is that every public school will be as good as our best public schools.

NEA has tremendous potential. We have vast untapped human resources. Now is the time for NEA to become energized, mobilized, and organized. Now is the time for us to flex our full potential as individual members and as a united Association. We are the right people, in the right places, at the right time. And we have the right ideas for lifting up struggling public schools--and for making better the schools where most of us work.

Again, thank you for choosing me to lead our great Association. It is a great honor. Together we will face great challenges in the years ahead. But I believe with all my heart that when our NEA family is focused and united, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

Comments? E-mail Reg Weaver at RegWeaver@nea.org.
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Title Annotation:President's Viewpoint; National Education Association; National Education Association
Author:Weaver, Reg
Publication:NEA Today
Article Type:President's Page
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
Words:575
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