November 9, 2001

NEA and NALEO Join Forces on Behalf of Hispanic Students

Washington, D.C. — The National Education Association (NEA) and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund today established a formal collaboration to help close the academic achievement gap among the nation's Hispanic students.

The 2.6 million member NEA is the nation's largest organization of public school staff. The NALEO Educational Fund is one of the leading national Latino organizations with a constituency of more than 5,400 Latino elected and appointed officials nationwide, more than half of whom are school board members.

"As educators, we know what children need to succeed and one essential ingredient is parental and community involvement," said John Wilson, executive director of NEA. "That is why we are delighted to work with prominent Hispanic groups, such as NALEO, who can help us connect our educational expertise to their community leaders."

Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO, agreed. "The 2,500 Latinos on school boards throughout the country are ideally situated to close the education gap between Latino and non-Latino children, and NEA is perfectly suited to helping us create real change in the nation's public school system."

The NEA-NALEO partnership will focus on support for the NALEO National Education Leadership Initiative (NELI), a recently created project geared to increasing understanding of effective education policy for Latino students among Hispanic school board members. NELI will also promote implementation of education strategies and programs proven effective with the Hispanic community.

More than 90 percent of Hispanic children attend the nation's public schools, representing nearly 15 percent of the K-12 public school population. While Latino students have become the majority in many urban school districts across the country, their academic achievement lags behind that of other groups — setting the stage for a future crisis in our Information Age economy.

Bob Chase, president of NEA, called the partnership "a win-win for the nation's educators and Hispanic youth."

Partnership activities call for:

a establishing a cadre of individuals knowledgeable about the particular needs of Latino students, to cross-train NEA and NALEO members;

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