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[Susan notes: Why is the New York Times giving ink to the Lexington Institute? The Lexington Institute describes itself as a "free-market oriented institute"; others say "libertarian whackos." Kudos to Rich Gibson for pointing out that many important points, including the fact that educators are deluded when they think politicos will keep the promises they make.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

David White [adjunct scholar at the Lexington Institute]

argues that delegates to the Democratic convention from

the National Education Association and the American Federation of

Teachers may be pivotal in choosing the nominee. He says that's bad

because the NEA and AFT are the reason schools are bad, protecting

lousy teachers, opposing reforms like merit pay. He adds that the

awful unions demand real promises from politicians. White knows nothing.

True, NEA and AFT will send many delegates to the convention. None

of them will be rich. That this is a billion dollar election seems to

pass White by. NEA and AFT, corrupt as they may be at the top, are

hardly responsible for the social and economic collapse in urban and

rural areas that precedes bad schools.

NEA and AFT both supported the No Child Left Behind Act which relies

on test scores that measure little but parental income and race,

dividing and betraying their teacher members. AFT's New York

bellweather local sold out their rank and file and supported merit

pay which will pit teacher vs teacher and be fixed by bad administrators.

Stupid principals who cannot follow simple contractual directions are

the ones who cannot fire bad teachers.

NEA and AFT will pour millions and thousand of volunteer hours into

the campaign. We have seen how politicians keep their promises to

education. They don't. But NEA and AFT leaders won't acknowledge that

as the election, a shell game, allows them to distract their members

from on the job actions in schools and in communities that really

could reform education, serve kids.

Laughton Chiles won the Florida governorship largely through the work

of teachers, and me. When elected, the teachers sought to hold him to

promises for better pay, he stood on the capital steps and called

teachers, 'worse than terrorists." That NEA and AFT leaders choose to

forget these things demonstrates their cynicism.

Rich Gibson, Prof. Emeritus, San Diego State Univ.

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