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NEA Labels NCLB for What It Is and Urges Teachers to Resist

Note: NEA president Reg Weaver is now saying it out loud what some of the rest of us have been screaming for a year or more: NCLB is designed to destroy public education, to privatize education.

Good for him.

National Education Association President Reg Weaver rallied his troops Wednesday, calling on teachers to battle against new federal education laws that he called hostile to public schools.

"Many of these people passing the laws for us haven't been in a classroom for 55,000 years, and they wouldn't last a minute on a school bus," said Weaver to a cheering room of Arizona Education Association leaders at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park.

The goal of the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act is to label public schools a failure and to privatize education, Weaver said. He warned teachers not to be pushed out of the debate by political foes who call them "a special-interest group."

"You tell them, 'Yes I am. And my special interest happens to be children,' " Weaver said. "And when they tell you you don't care about the kids and just want to spend money, you ask them, 'What money?' "

Phoenix music teacher Ken Lewis, 47, said he doesn't understand why the government is spending money to label schools, hire consultants and add paperwork instead of reducing class size. "Writing lesson plans isn't going to help when you still have 37 kids in a class," Lewis said.

Rural teachers said they have fewer kids but also have far fewer licensed teachers willing to work for the pay their districts can offer. So, licensed teachers come and go throughout the year, and untrained teachers are common.

Shorting kids on classroom spending speaks louder than any laws, Yuma teacher Kathie Jirak, 44, said.

"Show me your budget, and I'll show you where your values lie," she said.

— Pat Kossan
NEA chief urges local teachers to resist feds
Arizona Republic
July 17, 2003


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