February 23, 2004
Stupid Education Secretary
After dealing with the NEA for years as a school superintendent and Secretary of Education, I'd be frustrated with their Washington, D.C. lobbyists who oppose any non-liberal reform of public education. That being said, Ron Paige was over the line in telling governors that "the NEA is a terrorist organization." During this time of war, labling anyone that is the equivalent of calling the group traitors. No matter how misguided and wrong the NEA is, they don't strive for the violent destruction of Americans and our way of life. I'll go so far as to claim that Paige isn't taking the Islamic War seriously if he's jokingly calling his political opposition, "terrorists." By calling the NEA terrorists, Paige and the administration look like the side that's outrageous. The NEA is about to sue the federal government for not properly funding education. Since education is part of the budget that's ballooned since President Bush has been in office, a suit seeking even more money should seem ridiculous. Paige's terrorist comment only gives the NEA sympathy.
Paige issued an "apology" [via Drudge]:
It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms. I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. But, as one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better.
I take it as another jab at the NEA instead of not seriously using the word "terrorist." This shows to me that Paige might not have the temperment to get things done in D.C. After his tasteless joke, it will be even harder to deal with the NEA, and that's to the detriment of the kids he wants so hard to help.
Does the White House have to send out a memo telling cabinet members that only real terrorists should be called "terrorists?" You would think individuals in an administration in an election year would realize any and all comments can be politically dangerous.
"Paige Apologizes for Teachers Union Quip"