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President invites Pennsylvania teacher to attend State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON - January 24, 2012 -

A committed Pennsylvania teacher and NEA member from a school district in financial crisis will attend the State of the Union tonight. The White House invited Sara Ferguson, a teacher in the Chester Upland School District to attend President Barack Obama’s annual address.

Chester Upland’s teachers and staff were told in early January that there wouldn’t be enough money to pay them because the district was running out of state funding.

To keep the promise of public education to students, educators agreed to work temporarily without pay. On Monday, state lawmakers secured an agreement with the governor to avert the district’s looming financial crisis.

“Sara Ferguson symbolizes the commitment that teachers and support staff from coast to coast have for students. Educators care deeply about their students and are dedicated to their success,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association.

“Chester Upland is an extreme example of the devastating consequences budget cuts are having on students across America. We cannot allow students to be the victims of misguided priorities. Sara’s presence at the State of the Union demonstrates President Obama’s commitment to public education, student success, and equitable school funding.”

Ferguson, a 20-year employee of the district outside of Philadelphia, teaches Literary and Math. She’s a third generation educator in Chester Upland. The district has one of the highest student poverty rates in Pennsylvania and is heavily dependent upon state funding.

“I’m thrilled that President Obama has invited me,” said Ferguson. “The president’s invitation shows he is aware and concerned about the crisis confronting Chester Upland and its students.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Ramona Parks-Kirby  (202) 822-7823,  


Sara Ferguson, a teacher from Chester Upland School District, attended President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address.

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