MLK Day and Presidential Inauguration: Historic occasion to stand up for economic and social justice

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel issued a statement in honor of today’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

“On Monday, our nation’s first African American President will take the oath of office, the same day we honor Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., our most impassioned and celebrated civil rights leader. This convergence amplifies the importance of both events, and carries special meaning for National Education Association members who have stood up for social and economic justice throughout the organization’s proud 155-year history.

“As President Obama begins his second term, the National Education Association is committed to restoring hope and bringing about change in our country by fighting for greater access to opportunity for all Americans. For too long, opportunity has been the province of a select few, while average Americans have been left behind. It’s time to address these inequities and restore fairness.

“Our democracy is built upon the notion of opportunity, which rests upon the foundation of public education. We must work together to strengthen that foundation so that all students—no matter their zip code, race or social class—have access to a high quality education, a learning environment that is healthy, safe and secure, and a community that supports them and their families, both on and off school grounds.

“Recently, we’ve seen firsthand how our educators have so dramatically given their whole hearts to their students. In addition to caring how well their students learn, they also care about their students’ well-being and the well-being of their families. The personal commitment we’ve seen in our educators, from the school bus drivers who rescued victims of flooding after Superstorm Sandy to the classroom teachers who sacrificed their own safety to protect the lives of their students at Sandy Hook Elementary, will be reflected in NEA’s renewed commitment to educational excellence, social justice, and economic fairness.

“We know that the pathway from poverty to America’s great middle class runs through the classrooms of public schools and institutions of higher education. We will always fight for the educational opportunities that erase achievement gaps. We will always stand side by side, students, parents, and educators, to make sure our voices are heard in the places where policies are made and jobs are created.

“Along the way, we will be guided by a George Bernard Shaw quote that continues to inspire me: Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.

“On this important historic occasion, and on behalf of public school students across the nation, the National Education Association remains committed to dreaming and asking ‘why not?’ so that every public school student can look forward to a future filled with hope, prosperity and opportunity.”

Classroom Resources for Martin Luther King Day

NEA video celebrating Dr. King’s life and contributions to public education



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