May 26, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On the Swearing-in of Maria Neira to President’s
Advisory Commission On Educational Excellence for Hispanics
Neira is a vice president of the New York State United Teachers and a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers
WASHINGTON—Maria Neira’s intelligence, passion and expertise on educating children and in closing the achievement gap among different groups of students will be beneficial as she takes her seat as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
There is no mission more important than preparing all children to succeed in school, career and life. 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.
Neira, a vice president of the New York State United Teachers and an AFT vice president, 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 to lift the educational achievement of minority children.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.