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"I think taxpayers and parents have really kind of wised up and they understand the teachers’ unions are really about their members. They’re not about kids," Clark said. "I would say probably the teachers’ union has been one of the biggest impediments really in helping prepare our kids for academic success."
Parents for Choice and the unions went head-to-head last decade in the fight over private school vouchers, which were ultimately defeated in Utah.
Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement released Monday that the NEA will continue to confront those "who want to dismantle and privatize public education while de-professionalizing our very noble teaching profession."
Her statement continued: "We will not stand by and allow the corporate take-over of our public schools to continue."
She said as NEA president, she’d also like to work on immigration issues.
Eskelsen Garcia, whose mother emigrated to the U.S. from Panama, will also be the union’s first Latina leader. She said something, in particular, must be done for undocumented kids who were brought to America by their parents.
"It’s a great concern of our members that something compassionate be done to take that into consideration, that these children are in the country through no decision of their own, and we ought to ... make sure all our children have a safe place to call home," Eskelsen Garcia said.
Eskelsen Garcia said her own family provides an example of U.S. immigration issues. She got married a year ago, but her husband still lives in Mexico and is now in his 13th month of working on gaining residency in the U.S.
Eskelsen Garcia’s presidency will be the first time in recent history that the NEA will be led by an all-minority, all-female leadership team.
Prior to her election as president, Eskelsen Garcia served as NEA secretary-treasurer and vice president.
Kim Burningham, a longtime state school board member and former lawmaker, called Eskelsen "a strong advocate for public education."
And he, of course, remembers her guitar.
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