Other views: Remarks about the NEA were ignorant, insulting

Rod Paige, appointed by George W. Bush as Secretary of Education, in an address to the nation's governors, recently called the National Education Association, "a terrorist organization."...

Rod Paige, appointed by George W. Bush as Secretary of Education, in an address to the nation's governors, recently called the National Education Association, "a terrorist organization."

As one who taught for 28 years, and was a member of NEA, I am appalled by Paige's ignorance and hatred, but I fear that his words reflect the Bush administration's attitudes toward public schools and teachers.

From the colonial times to the present, America has valued learning, schools and those who teach. Commerce and democracy must have literate and informed citizens, who speak a common language and who share common values and knowledge; taxes to educate all children, for the good of society. Free public education makes the opportunity to learn available to all, not to just the sons of the privileged.

It grows more apparent that The Bush ideologues wish to "privatize" nearly every governmental service, including free public education. One strategy they use is to repeat their views over and over, whether they are true or not, hoping that if we hear the phrases often enough we will believe their lies. Now this administration is declaring war on schools and teachers by declaring the National Education Association a "terrorist organization."

In all my years of teaching, I never met a teacher who planned to blow up anything. Instead, we planned lessons and taught classes; we supervised or coached activities; we often used our own money to buy supplies and treats for our students; we arrived early, stayed, late and took work home; we did hall and playground duty; we counseled, challenged, and encourage students; we took students on trips; we held conferences; we spent summers and weekends taking classes at our own expense; we took abuse from disturbed kids and parents; we accepted differences; we calmed fears and kept the confidences of our students; we believed we were creating a better future by being teachers.


And we joked among ourselves that we had done so much, for so long, for so many, that we were qualified to do anything, for anyone, with nothing. Are these the activities of terrorists?

Are the teachers of NEA "terrorists" because we see through the policies of the current administration and disagree with them? In a democracy, dissent is allowed. Wise leaders encourage discussion and a range of ideas and opinions, and do not resort to name calling. Someone in a position as high as U.S. Secretary of Education should know better than to try to kill the messenger when he doesn't like the message.

While Bush blunders his way through the English language, someone (the Wizard of Oz, perhaps?) is working behind the scenes to manipulate the English language to convince the public that black is white and bad is good.

Beware this administration using the word "reform!" They have created the "No Child Left Behind" act. That sounds good -- who wants to leave children behind? But, 1) they have not provided funding, 2) small schools across the nation will be hard-pressed to find teachers with majors in each subject area, therefore, 3) it seems the real purpose of this bogus "reform" is to "prove" that public schools are "failing."

The Bush administration will then issue vouchers (your tax dollars) to allow parents to choose a "better school." Again, pretty sounding, but meaningless language.

Perhaps, we should thank Rod Paige for exposing the true feelings of the Bush administration toward the people who educate the children. He is an employee of the U.S. taxpayer, just as teachers are. It is a travesty to pay this bureaucrat a salary and let him have the honor of the title "Secretary of Education."

"To educate" means to draw forth the best. I took my calling as an educator seriously. He obviously doesn't understand what "education" means. We should all call for his firing.

Light, Devils Lake, N.D., taught for 28 years in that city's public schools. E-mail

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