Some critics have complained that the issue of education has been conspicuously absent from presidential television debates. But the Democratic candidates did sound off with their pro-federal-government, pro-spending policies when addressing the annual convention of the National Education Association, and the nation's largest teachers union liked what they heard.
Senator Hillary Clinton told the NEA delegates that she will fight school vouchers "with every breath in my body." Reiterating the message of her book "It Takes a Village," she called for universal preschool for four-year-olds.
Senator Barack Obama likewise inveighed against "passing out vouchers." Former Senator John Edwards also announced his opposition to vouchers and proposed that the federal government pay college tuition for all students who will work ten hours a week.
Governor Bill Richardson wants to "raise teacher's average minimum wage to $40,000 a year." Rep. Dennis Kucinich goes all-out for "a universal prekindergarten system which will provide year-around daycare for children ages 3-5."
All Democratic candidates look forward to increased federal control of and spending for public schools. And they all attacked George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law for not appropriating more funds to implement it.
After cheering the promises made by the candidates, NEA delegates buckled down to the serious business of spelling out their political goals, many of which have nothing whatever to do with giving schoolchildren a better education.
The NEA demands a tax-supported single-payer health-care plan (socialized medicine) for all residents (a word artfully chosen to include illegal aliens). The NEA supports immigration "reform" that "includes [note: this is a change from last year's verb "may include"] a path to permanent residency, citizenship, or asylum" for illegal aliens.
For many years, and again this year, the NEA urged a national holiday honoring Cesar Chavez. The NEA must have forgotten that Chavez, a strident advocate for farm workers, vehemently opposed illegal immigration because he knew it depressed the wages of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants.
The NEA supports a beefed-up federal "hate crimes" law with heavier penalties. The NEA wants federal legislation to confer special rights on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
The NEA passed at least a dozen resolutions supporting the gay rights agenda in public schools. These cover employment, curricula, textbooks, resource and instructional materials, school activities, role models, and language (with frequent use of terms such as sexual orientation, gender identification, and homophobia).
The NEA enthusiastically supports all the goals of radical feminism, including abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment, school-based health clinics, wage control so the government can arbitrarily raise the pay of women but not men, the feminist pork called the Women's Educational Equity Act, and letting feminists rewrite textbooks to conform to feminist ideology.
The NEA supports statehood for the District of Columbia. The NEA supports affirmative action. The NEA calls for repeal of right-to-work laws, which allow teachers in some states to decline joining the NEA.
The NEA supports United Nations treaties, especially the UN Convention on Women, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Criminal Court. The NEA loves global education, which promotes world citizenship and taxing Americans to give away our wealth to other countries.
Another NEA favorite is environmental education, which teaches that human activity is generally harmful to the environment and population should be reduced.
Here are some of the things the NEA opposes: vouchers, tuition tax credits, all parental choice programs, making English our official language, the use of voter ID for elections, and the privatization of Social Security.
High on the list of NEA policies that actually relate to education is opposition to the testing of teachers as a criterion for job retention, promotion, tenure, or salary.
The NEA wants the right to teach schoolchildren about sex without any interference from parents, but on the other hand wants its pals in the bureaucracy to regulate all homeschooling taught by parents. The NEA opposes allowing homeschoolers to participate in any public school sports or extracurricular activities.
Two of the NEA's favorite words in its resolutions and policies are diversity (that means teaching that gay behavior is OK), and multiculturalism (that means stressing negative things about America and positive things about non-Christian cultures).
The exorbitant dues that teachers pay to the NEA enable its well-paid staff to lobby Congress and state legislatures in behalf of all these goals.