NEA kicks off grassroots push

NEW YORK: The National Education Association (NEA) has launched a grassroots Web campaign targeting the Caribbean and African communities who have expressed that they feel overlooked by the public school system.

NEW YORK: The National Education Association (NEA) has launched a grassroots Web campaign targeting the Caribbean and African communities who have expressed that they feel overlooked by the public school system.

The campaign, titled www.ILoveMyCaribbeanChild.com andwww.ILoveMyAfricanChild.com, will feature several URLs to reach the Jamaican, Haitian, Trinidadian, and African communities, as well as town hall meetings in early 2008 in New York, Atlanta, and Miami.

The campaign tagline is: "The uniform has changed, but the values are the same." It draws on experiences parents in these communities had with wearing uniforms in school.

The campaign has also enlisted "ambassadors" - entertainers, entrepreneurs, and athletes - that will have wide-range participation, from appearances at town hall meetings to speaking with the media.

In focus groups held earlier this year, members of these minority communities voiced their feelings about issues such as school safety, English as a second language, and discomfort speaking with teachers because, in their own cultures, that isn't done.

"Many African and Caribbean children [are] lost in the system," said Reg Weaver, president of the NEA. "Sometimes the parents feel as though they're not welcome in the schools. We want those individuals to know that they are included in the basic right [to public education] that every child deserves."

The NEA has been working with the 135 Street Agency, a firm with offices in Harlem, NY, and Atlanta, on its ethnic minority outreach since March.

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