Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Convention to Bear Brunt of Teachers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Convention to Bear Brunt of Teachers

Article excerpt

There will be a different brand of Chicago boss influencing the

goings-on at this year's Democratic convention: teachers.

When Democrats gavel in their national convention tomorrow,

members of the National Education Association will account for

around 400 delegates and alternates, and the American Federation

of Teachers another 150.

In total, teachers unions will provide about one out of every

eight elected attendees.

Supporters say teachers union muscle provides a counterbalance

to the Religious Right influence in the GOP, where nominee Bob

Dole has proclaimed plans to install a form of school choice

that many education groups vehemently oppose.

NEA officials are reaching out to Republicans and say 34 of

their members were delegates to this year's GOP convention in

San Diego. The hunion's polling shows a third of its 2.2 million

members are Republican.

But the organization and its affiliates regularly provide one

of the biggest blocs of delegates to the Democratic National

Convention and millions in campaign contributions. In a party

heavily influenced by organized labor, it remains The Union in

education.

"The teachers union is an arm of the Democratic Party," said

who has battled teachers unions opposed to his pilot school

voucher program.

Dole, the former U.S. Senate majority leader, singled out the

teachers unions for a slap during his Aug. 15 speech accepting

the Republican presidential nomination.

"To the teachers unions I say, when I am president, I will

disregard your political power, for the sake of the children,

the schools and the nation," Dole told GOP delegates in San

Diego. "I plan to enrich your vocabulary with those words you

fear -- school choice, competition and opportunity scholarships

-- so that you will join the rest of us in accountability, while

others compete with you for the commendable privilege of giving

our children a real education."

"There is no reason why those who live on any street in America

should not have the same right as the person who lives at 1600

Pennsylvania Ave., the right to send their child to the school

of their choice."

Cathy Kelly, assistant executive director of the NEA-affiliate

public school teachers."

The NEA released a poll in San Diego showing that even

Republican conservatives favor increasing or maintaining federal

funding for the public schools, preserving the U. …

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