Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

Mass. Teacher Snubs Paige Honors; PA Teacher Says It Was No Big Deal

Ohanian Comment: The Associated Press story about the courageous teacher of principle is still floating around--only now they've found some teacher they can quote saying Paige's remark was no big deal.

The Massachusetts teacher of the year refused to attend an event in Washington honoring the nation's top educators because U.S. Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization."

Jeffrey R. Ryan, a history teacher at Reading Memorial High School who lost a friend in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said he could not accept Paige's apology for his Feb. 23 comments about the 2.7 million-member National Education Association. Ryan has taught for 25 years.

Paige said the remark was a "bad joke." But Ryan said: "Nazi death camps aren't funny. Lynching people isn't funny. . . . And terrorism isn't funny. I just couldn't show up and shake that man's hand after he made those remarks."

Forty-four teachers of the year attended last Monday's conference, which the department had arranged weeks before Paige's comment.

Paige had made the comment in a private meeting with governors. He later apologized for his choice of words, but maintained that the union uses "obstructionist scare tactics." "I can assure you, I have nothing but the highest esteem for teachers and the teaching profession," he told the teachers last week.

Ryan, 49, said his refusal to attend the conference was also a protest of the No Child Left Behind Act, which he called a "stealth tactic by the Bush administration to undermine public schools."

Education Department spokeswoman Susan Aspey said the administration has pumped billions more dollars into public education. Had he attended the conference, Ryan could have expressed his opinion directly to Paige, she said.

Pennsylvania's representative was Joyce Dunn, a first-grade teacher in Shanksville, where United Flight 93 crashed during the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I thought it was a very poor choice of words, and he did apologize," she said. "I felt it was important to go to the forum because of the issue of No Child Left Behind and the implications of how it affects children were so much greater than Secretary Paige's comments."

— Associated Press
Washington Post


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.