NEA Talks School Modernization with President Obama
By Brian Washington
Diana Beatty teaches math at a Colorado high school where her classroom is one of several located in the basement—which previously housed the cafeteria when the school was first built almost 40 years ago.
She educates students in the one classroom that has a window, but it faces a brick wall. Her room is also not far from the school’s noisy boiler room and a loading dock. When trucks arrive with deliveries, students are treated to loud rumblings that hijack their attention and cause the desks and chairs to vibrate.
“I have classes of 36 and 37 teenagers packed into desks that are falling apart, and students are using textbooks older than they are,” said Beatty. “Our carpet is threadbare, stained, and approaching 40 years old, but can’t be replaced because there is an asbestos issue we can’t afford to address.”
However, Beatty is refusing to let her students suffer in silence. She took her concerns directly to President Obama Tuesday during a working meeting which also included NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, 11 Association members as well as education activists and stakeholders from across the country [ed note: see the complete gallery of attending members at the bottom of this page]. The policy discussion focused on the American Jobs Act (AJA)—which will modernize public schools nationwide, prevent hundreds of thousands of educator layoffs, and keep students out of overcrowded classrooms.