The new nonpartisan NEA
The National Education Association’s new president wants to present a less partisan image, Reg Weaver tells the Washington Times. “I think many [Republican leaders in the Bush administration and Congress] feel as though we may not support as many Republicans as Democrats,” Weaver said. Ya think? The teachers’ union might even endorse a Republican. (Shudder.)
Anything to water down the No Child Left Behind law. NEA doesn’t like the law’s call for a “highly qualified” teacher in every classroom by 2006, fearing that teachers will have to pass proficiency tests or, even worse, be judged by their students’ test scores. NEA also opposes annual tests of students’ reading and math skills.
The delegates at the union’s convention in New Orleans haven’t got the bipartisan message yet, the Times reports. They applauded guest speaker Kerry Kennedy Cuomo when she said, “The Republican Party is the biggest danger to democracy.”
During the four-day convention, a widely circulated newsletter of the NEA Peace and Justice Caucus criticized the Iraq war and included a mock resume of Mr. Bush, saying he was the “first U.S. president to establish a secret shadow government.”
The full-page printed mock resume is headlined “Bushwacked!” and is topped with a picture portraying Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as the Scarecrow and the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz.” A caption above Mr. Bush says, “If I only had a brain!” and above Mr. Cheney says, “If I only had a heart!”
On Thursday, the convention of about 10,000 NEA members — current and retired teachers and school support employees — erupted in cheering and laughter as TV monitors in the hall showed a female delegate’s T-shirt declaring: “Bush reminds women of their first husband.”
Mr. Weaver said he is trying to move the NEA away from partisanship. “We are asking our [state affiliates] to be more supportive and recommend more Republican candidates,” he said.
Education Secretary Rod Paige called the NEA “a coalition of the whining” for its opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act. Weaver must be worried that the union has made itself irrelevant. The Republicans are in power, and likely to remain so, while the NEA is sitting in the corner with a dunce cap.