Friday, November 08, 2002


The Nebraska State Education Association threw its weight around bigtime this past election and apparently succeeded in knocking off two of the best members of the State Board of Education, Kathryn Piller and Kathy Wilmot, with heavy funding and nasty, last-minute dirty or at least dingy campaign tactics.

Come to find out, though, that elsewhere in the country, people aren't such suckers for union propaganda.

Take San Diego, where the teachers' union sank $500,000 into the school-board race. Think about it: half a million dollars on a school-board race. Yeesh.

The superintendent there is a Democrat, Alan Bersin, and he's a bit of a back-to-the-basics kind of guy, so he's likeable for honest liberals and conservatives alike. His program of stressing reading and math in the early grades, combined with extensive testing, has produced impressive results, especially for students of color and those from families of modest means.

He has gotten along so far with a slim, 3-2 majority on that school board, even though the board is so goofed up and dysfunctional, they have sought psychological counseling, advice on parliamentary gamesmanship and professional mediation. (Read more on the San Diego Union-Tribune's site, signonsandiego.com)

Well, the union hates his guts, because his common-sense solutions and control over the curriculum threaten its power. So the union went all out trying to get two of their own wonks in place and seize control of the board.

Nanny nanny boo boo. Their half-million bought just one, not two, seats, and now the board is basically going to come down 4-1 AGAINST union high-spending and low-results programs.

Sam Popkin, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, who is a Democratic Party apologist for the most part, has this to say about the teachers' union mess-up and how it was in perplexing opposition to the wishes of the Urban League, the Chamber of Commerce and other reform-minded groups:

"It perfectly illustrates how the NEA is fast becoming the political albatross around the Democratic Party neck," Popkin was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 5 editorial).

Amen! And listen up, Nebraska.

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