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NEA Honors Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Paul Krugman with 40th Annual Friend of Education Award

Renowned economist and author Paul Krugman received the 40th annual Friend of Education Award at the 2012 Representative Assembly for his work in advancing the dialogue of education inequality and the importance of teacher quality and student success.

“As a leader in the field of modern economics, Paul Krugman understands that we need to make education a priority if we expect to maintain an American competitive edge,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “A product of public schools, Paul Krugman is just one of many public school success stories. We are very proud to call Mr. Krugman a Friend of Education. He has done outstanding work to help raise awareness of the significant impact of education inequality on student success.”

Krugman is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, a centenary professor at the London School of Economics and a columnist for the New York Times. He has authored dozens of books and hundreds of articles and columns. In 2008 Krugman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

In a January 8th New York Times column he wrote:

“The failure starts early: in America, the holes in the social safety net mean that both low-income mothers and their children are all too likely to suffer from poor nutrition and receive inadequate health care. It continues once children reach school age, where they encounter a system in which the affluent send their kids to good, well-financed public schools or, if they choose, to private schools, while less-advantaged children get a far worse education.

“Once they reach college age, those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to go to college — and vastly less likely to go to a top-tier school — than those luckier in their parentage. At the most selective, “Tier 1” schools, 74 percent of the entering class comes from the quarter of households that have the highest “socioeconomic status”; only 3 percent comes from the bottom quarter.

“And if children from our society’s lower rungs do manage to make it into a good college, the lack of financial support makes them far more likely to drop out than the children of the affluent, even if they have as much or more native ability. One long-term study by the Department of Education found that students with high test scores but low-income parents were less likely to complete college than students with low scores but affluent parents — loosely speaking, that smart poor kids are less likely than dumb rich kids to get a degree.”

The Friend of Education Award, presented each year during NEA’s Representative Assembly, recognizes individuals or organizations whose work significantly contributes to the advancement of public education in America. Past honorees include U.S. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and William Jefferson Clinton; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and the late Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-Mass.).


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