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Dennis Van Roekel
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Dennis Van Roekel, a 23-year teaching veteran and longtime activist for children and public education, is president of the National Education Association, which represents more than 3 million educators. As NEA president, he leads the nation’s largest labor union and advocate for quality public schools.

Van Roekel is committed to improving student learning and enhancing the professionalism of education employees. In 2010, he established the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, a national, independent panel that is examining policies and practices governing the teaching profession to craft a new “teacher-centered” vision of teaching and the teaching profession. He is also a member of the US Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission, which is tasked with studying, and recommending solutions to, inequitable school finance systems and their effect on student achievement.

A recognized leader on education issues, he has testified before Congress on ESEA reauthorization and federal education policy, ensuring the voices of educators are at the forefront of critical decision-making. He serves as vice president of Education International for North America and the Caribbean, pursuing a common course of action on issues like collective bargaining, raising student achievement, and adequate funding that resonate around the world. He also serves on leading boards, including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Executive Committee and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education Executive Board.

Van Roekel has been the invited speaker at numerous forums and national summits sponsored by the Coalition for Community Schools, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Council of Chief State School Officers, and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and an invited guest at the White House Conference on Bullying. He is frequently invited to discuss education issues with leading publications and networks, including C-Span, MSNBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Education Week, and TIME.

Entries by Dennis Van Roekel

Join National Campaign to Put Focus of Public Education on Student Learning

(6) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 11:17 AM

The average American student and teacher now spend about 30 percent of the school year preparing for and taking standardized tests. This is time that schools could use to achieve their primary purpose of educating students. Instead, they become nothing more than test factories.

American taxpayers send approximately $1.7...

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Our Accountability System Is Flunking Its Test

(4) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 7:07 PM

Public education in our country is amazingly complex and varied. No single idea, policy or solution can begin to address all the challenges in 50 states, 15,000 districts and 90,000 public schools. Add to that complexity the law of unintended consequences, and you begin to see the danger in the...

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We Need a Course Correction on Common Core

(31) Comments | Posted February 20, 2014 | 5:25 PM

During my 23 years as a high school math teacher, I learned some important lessons. One of the most important was that effective teaching and learning required me at times to be the teacher and at other times, the student. I listened closely to my students because they were the...

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Chicago's Students Deserve Acts of Heroism

(46) Comments | Posted May 23, 2013 | 2:31 PM

For weeks now, teachers, parents and community leaders have been protesting Chicago Public Schools' plan to close 50 schools in what will be the largest single wave of school closures in U.S. history.

The media coverage has been dramatic, but what you see in the eyes of educators...

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Common Core State Standards: Get It Right

(7) Comments | Posted May 7, 2013 | 4:55 PM

When kids first learn to cross the street, we tell them to stop, look both ways and assess the traffic before they proceed. Similarly, when it comes to decisions affecting the education of millions of our nation's public school students, we should exercise the same common sense.

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Exposing ALEC's Agenda to Defund and Dismantle Public Education

(42) Comments | Posted May 7, 2013 | 11:52 AM

Iron Man 3 just opened this past weekend, followed soon by more would-be blockbusters. I'm sure a lot of these movies will be entertaining, but none will be more important or relevant than a half-hour documentary I recently watched: The United States of ALEC.

This film, featuring...

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New Face of Teacher Unionism, Eyes Fixed on Testing Mania

(16) Comments | Posted February 6, 2013 | 10:43 AM

In 1946 more than 1,100 St. Paul teachers staged a five-week walkout for better pay and working conditions. It was the nation's first teacher strike. Over the next six decades, the sight of striking teachers walking a picket line became the indelible image symbolizing teacher might. Now a new face...

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Leading the STEM Challenge

(19) Comments | Posted October 3, 2012 | 2:20 PM

Despite the flurry of campaign attack ads claiming candidates are either job killers or job creators, one thing remains clear: If the United States is to hold a competitive edge in a rapidly changing global workforce, bolstering the nation's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce is essential. It's also...

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The Best Choice for Public Education in 2012

(1) Comments | Posted September 13, 2012 | 5:09 PM

If you Google "Mitt Romney out of touch," search results include headlines on workers, Latinos and women. Given his rhetoric, it's only a matter of time before we can add "educators" to the list.

In May, Romney introduced his plan for overhauling education with a speech where...

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Tackling the Scourge of Child Hunger

(32) Comments | Posted August 23, 2012 | 2:24 PM

"Start every day with a good breakfast." How many of us heard this as kids in school?

Many of us don't eat breakfast, content to fuel up later in the day. But what if you're a child that missed breakfast because your family simply doesn't have the food or...

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As Congress Fiddles, Students and Schools Do a Slow Burn

(8) Comments | Posted July 18, 2012 | 10:18 AM

The NEA convention always inspires me, and the meeting this year was no exception. Everyone in attendance could sense our members' passion for public education, and our willingness to take charge of our professions in order to help students achieve.

After all, that's why...

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High Stakes Testing: Who's Cheating Whom?

(5) Comments | Posted March 28, 2012 | 12:48 PM

I talked to a first-grade teacher some time back who told me she was retiring, and when I asked her what made her decide that it was time to leave the classroom, she said, "When they handed me the script." In light of recent news developments, I began...

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Teachers Unions Step Up to Lead on Education Reform

(8) Comments | Posted February 22, 2012 | 9:48 AM

For as long as we have had struggling schools in America's cities, there have been efforts to turn them around. Those of us committed to equal opportunity have always believed that education gives students a foothold on the ladder to success. Yet recent studies show the role of education as...

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Crisis In Chester Upland: Putting Private Profits Above Student Success

(17) Comments | Posted January 19, 2012 | 2:16 PM

Over the past week, an almost unthinkable series of events unfolded in the Chester Upland School District near Philadelphia.

District leaders told educators that there wouldn't be enough money to pay them. Despite this disturbing and surprising news, educators voted to continue working as long as they were personally able...

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Leading the Profession

(12) Comments | Posted December 29, 2011 | 10:50 AM

NEA's Three-Point Plan to Strengthen Teaching, Improve Student Learning

The status quo in public education isn't working. Not for students -- and not for educators. Now, more than ever, our schools need a highly skilled and effective teaching force to guide students in meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

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Dennis Van Roekel: The National Education Association's Plan for Teacher Accountability

(6) Comments | Posted September 20, 2011 | 3:35 PM

This piece comes to us courtesy of Education Nation’s The Learning Curve blog. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, writes.

This summer, the National Education Association took a historic vote and adopted a new policy statement. It put us on the...

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Facing the Future: Global Education at the Crossroads

(24) Comments | Posted April 21, 2010 | 11:00 AM

When we see the face of a child, we think of the future. We think of their dreams about what they might become, and what they might accomplish. But today, there are 72 million children in the world who have had at least part of their futures stolen from them....

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The Elementary and Secondary Education Act -- 45 Years Later

(61) Comments | Posted April 11, 2010 | 1:20 PM

"Our society will not be great until every young mind is set free to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination."--Lyndon Johnson

In 1965, President Johnson laid out his vision for an America that would see an "an end to poverty and racial injustice" and where every child would...

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What Slumdog Teaches Us About Education

(20) Comments | Posted March 13, 2009 | 4:21 PM

Few people who saw Slumdog Millionaire were surprised when it swept the Academy Awards, winning eight Oscars including Best Picture. The inspiring and profitable rags-to-riches tale is now a bonafide phenomenon, one of the few independent movies to zoom past the $200 million mark at the worldwide box office.


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