By Kismet Barksdale
Maria Neira, vice president of New York State United Teachers, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Neira was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during a ceremony Thursday in Washington.
Widely recognized as a national expert on education policy and issues, Neira is a former New York City elementary bilingual teacher. In her role at NYSUT, she oversees the union’s initiatives on educational policy, and serves as its liaison to the state Education Department and Board of Regents.
“I believe this initiative will empower educators to better meet the needs of our Latino students and give them the opportunities and support they need to attain educational excellence,” Neira said. “I am confident the commission’s work also will help advance the important mission of the Dream Act.”
The president in October signed an executive order renewing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The initiative aims to work directly with Hispanic communities nationwide in public private partnerships, and links together key individuals and organizations from within and outside the education system to establish and increase community wide education initiatives.
The Presidential Advisory Commission brings together a national network of education and community leaders charged with providing input and advice on the development and implementation of education policy and programs that impact the Hispanic community. The commission will hold its inaugural meetings Thursday and today in Washington.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi hailed Neira’s appointment: “This is truly a tremendous honor for Vice President Neira, for NYSUT and for New York's educational community. But most importantly this recognizes the dedication and excellence exhibited by Maria in every aspect of her work on behalf of all students and, especially, the Hispanic community.”
Meanwhile, Neira also has been appointed to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Advisory Council. With the Latino population poised to take on an increased role in the nation’s economic success and future, the council works on guiding the Institute in its mission of developing the next generation of Latino leaders.