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Jewish World Review July 10, 2000 /7 Tamuz, 5760

Don Feder

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AlGore promises an educational chicken in every pot -- LAST WEEK, both the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) endorsed the candidacy of Vice President Al Gore. exactly the sort of politician the teachers' unions adore. More money for educators? Absolutely. Accountability? Never! Competition for public education? Get outta here.

Gore wants to send an extra $115 billion (over 10 years) into the Bermuda Triangle of government spending. This includes $16 billion to recruit new teachers and increase their salaries. Since public schools have done such an exceptional job with older kids, the veep would provide pre-school for every 4-year-old.

By contrast, Gov. George Bush has proposed giving $1,500 grants to students in failing schools to help them escape the public-education gulag.

In Gore, the teachers unions have found a thoroughly trained candidate who does tricks on command. ("Roll over, Al. Beg for our votes.").

Meeting in Philadelphia, the AFT decided a fifth year of high school was a swell idea -- for all of the students public schools are unable to educate in 12 years.

At its Chicago convention, the NEA resoundingly defeated a proposal to allow union locals to negotiate merit-based bonuses. "Do we want to send a message ... that we are willing to negotiate pay for performance?" a horrified delegate asked.

The NEA also resolved that foreign-born students must be instructed in their native language. Home-schooling parents should be licensed by the state and standardized student tests must not be used to withhold funding or "inappropriately compare" teachers or schools.

Charter schools, which the teachers' lobby fought for years, got grudging assent, providing they're designed and run by the education bureaucracy, thus negating their purpose.

Sex education, multiculturalism and global education -- designed to either tear down traditional morality or exalt other cultures and defame America -- should, in the NEA's opinion, be ubiquitous.

Delegates demanded that students have "direct" and confidential access to comprehensive health ... services."

"After we finish reading, kiddies, we'll have
some yummy government-subsidized chicken!"

Translation: Schools should give kids condoms and counsel them on adolescent urges without parental knowledge or consent.

On vouchers, the NEA transcends shrillness to arrive at hysteria. Allowing parents to opt out of public education has "the potential for racial, economic and social segregation of children," the association warns. The overthrow of democracy and the end of civilization would follow in short order.

Dogma drives the group to take stands on issues not remotely related to education. It favors "strict proscriptive regulations" on the manufacture and sale of handguns.

Official English "disregards cultural pluralism" and must be opposed. Statehood for the District of Columbia -- two Senate seats for the Democrats in perpetuity -- gets a big thumbs up.

Comparable worth legislation is embraced. "The 'market value' means of establishing pay cannot be the final determinant of pay scales since it too frequently reflects the race and sex bias in our society." Translation: Supply and demand are too objective. It's better for salaries to be set by bureaucrats based on what interest groups believe is fair.

What any of this has to do with education is anyone's guess. Then again, what the average NEA or AFT member has to do with education is also a matter for conjecture.

Last year, nearly two-thirds of eighth-graders in the New York City school system failed a statewide English test; more than three-quarters flunked a math test.

Dr. John Silber, then president of Boston University, once remarked that a high-school diploma tells you nothing about a graduate's level of learning. For all the difference it makes, he might as well have been incarcerated in a prison or mental institution for 12 years, Silber declared.

Addressing NEA delegates on Thursday, Gore pledged that not only will he "never support private school vouchers," but he'll appoint Supreme Court justices who will interpret the Constitution so as to kill school choice.

Moreover, "As president, I'll put a highly qualified teacher in every classroom in this nation." How, by firing the incompetents we have now?

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. To comment on this column click here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate