|NUMBER 150||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JULY 1998|
NEA Paranoia in Print
WASHINGTON, DC - The National Education Association (NEA) defines "The Radical Right" as "a wide range of groups including free-market conservatives, anti-government and anti-union ideologues, and religious fundamentalists with a political agenda." The NEA newsletter called In Brief accuses these groups of "touting Americanism while imposing their rigid religious and political values on the country."
It specifically charges that the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, the Hoover Institution, and the Heritage Foundation are "anti-government," claiming that these organizations "oppose public solutions to public problems." It accuses the Christian Coalition and the American Family Association of "opposing public schools' respect for the freedom to teach and learn, proposing to turn all schools into bastions of fundamentalist Christianity." NEA editors seem to be oblivious to the fact that prayer and Bible studies have been banned from the public schools since 1963, and that the performance of American students was abysmal on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (see 'U.S. Math Scores Fail the Test,' Education Reporter, April 1998) and on the 1996 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tests. Those test results prompted many educators and parents to question whether American students are learning much of anything.
In Brief charges that: "Radical right extremists are also attempting to impose a curriculum that mirrors their values and inculcates fundamentalist Christianity. They would exclude and devalue people who are poor, people of color, and people who are in any way different from them." The article then cuts to the chase. "In communities all over the country, members of the religious right have attempted to impose censorship and the teaching of creationism on the public schools. They've tried to cut guidance and anti-drug programs, health education, environmental education, and even Head Start."
According to the NEA, "the ultimate aim of the extreme right is the destruction of public education in America." In Brief implies that conservative groups' roots are segregationist and compares segregation efforts of the 1950s to tuition vouchers of the 1990s. It says that "the Christian Coalition's highly publicized Samaritan Project cynically reaches out to Black and Hispanic parents in urban areas. Their proposed Hope and Opportunity Scholarships are actually tuition vouchers that would 'give low-income parents an alternative and the same opportunities for their children that others have.' This cruelly raises hopes that private schools would have enough places, that enough tuition vouchers for private schools will be available to all who want them, and that the vouchers will be enough to cover tuition costs. Of course, none of these are true."
The NEA's newsletter further categorizes the "right wing" as "religious zealots and blatantly racist hate groups" that have been molded into "a slick, politically adroit, well-organized network of activist organizations, think tanks, and private foundations that operate both nationally and, most crucially, at the grassroots. They dominate talk radio and help set our country's political agenda - from the attacks on affirmative action and Goals 2000 to the gutting of Medicare." The article also claims that the "right wing has political clout and the ear of top elected officials, policy makers, and the media."
The article ends with a call to action to "stop" the right wing's efforts to "discredit and dismantle public education by involving the public."