05/26/2011

AFT Leader Appointed to White House Advisory Commission

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AFT vice president Maria Neira was sworn in May 26 as a commissioner on the White House Advisory Commission on the Educational Excellence of Hispanic Americans.

Neira's "intelligence, passion and expertise on educating children and in closing the achievement gap among different groups of students" make her a great choice to serve on the commission, AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

Neira, a vice president of the New York State United Teachers, is a former elementary school bilingual teacher. She rose through the ranks of union leadership to become a nationally recognized expert on educational issues, including work with to lift the educational achievement of minority children.

The White House Advisory Commission on the Educational Excellence of Hispanic Americans is composed of 30 members appointed by the president who have relevant experience or subject matter expertise. The members represent a variety of sectors, including the education sector, labor organizations, research institutions, corporate and financial institutions, public and private philanthropic organizations, and nonprofit and community-based organizations. See the complete list of commission members and their biographies.

"There is no mission more important than preparing all children to succeed in school, career and life," Weingarten says. "Teachers are central to that mission, but they cannot do it alone. AFT members and leaders are reaching out and making common cause with parents, community, business and school leaders, elected officials and anyone else who has a stake in making our schools better. We have to do a better job of getting resources to the children in greatest need, and we have to make sure children have access to healthcare, counseling, after-school programs and the other wraparound services they need to succeed.

"The work of this commission is a crucial step toward realizing President Obama's vision to have the United States lead the world in college degree attainment by 2020. Thirty years ago, Hispanic students comprised a relatively modest percentage of our nation's student population. Today, one out of five public school students is Hispanic, and the latest Census figures show Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population." [AFT press release, the White House]

May 26, 2011