Sunday, July 5, 2009

Past must not define us, says Teacher of the Year

Past is not prologue -- that was the message Teacher of the Year Anthony Mullen of Connecticut delivered to RA delegates in a moving speech today.

Mullen, a former New York City police detective, talked about his work with students who have struggled academically and may be dealing with serious emotional problems. His goal, Mullen said, is to convince his students that "origin is not destiny."

Mullen also spoke of the importance of organizations such as the NEA and its state and local affiliates in helping to preserve the middle class.

He decried calls for teachers and education support professionals to offer contractual give-backs during an economic downturn, saying they have suffered from inadequate pay and benefits for too long.

"Since we have been given very little, we have nothing to give back," Mullen said.

Mullen also spoke about the need to prepare students for the challenges of the future, arguing that America must address its dropout crisis to ensure that students are able to compete in the global economy. "The ability to graduate from high school is a fundamental right," Mullen said.

To view some photos from Mullen's address, visit the official RA FlickR feed here.

To watch NEA President Dennis Van Roekel's interview with Mullen, click the image below.

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