Is the NEA a “terrorist organization”?

Cabinet officers aren’t allowed to make “jokes” like this in wartime. (Just imagine the howls if some prominent Democrat had called the RNC, for example, a terrorist organization.)

Time for Bush to ask for Paige’s resignation.

Of course, it was time for that months ago, when it turned out the “miracle” Paige presided over in Houston was mostly a hoax.

Here’s the latest story:

Education Secretary Paige calls teachers union ‘terrorist organization’

02:35 PM CST on Monday, February 23, 2004

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation’s largest teachers union a “terrorist organization” during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.

Democratic and Republican governors confirmed Paige’s remarks about the National Education Association.

“These were the words, ‘The NEA is a terrorist organization,”‘ said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.

“He was making a joke, probably not a very good one,” said Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania. “Of course he immediately divorced the NEA from ordinary teachers, who he said he supports.”

“I don’t think the NEA is a terrorist organization,” said Rendell, who has butted heads with the group as well. “They’re not a terrorist organization any more than the National Business Organization is a terrorist organization.

Neither the Education Department nor NEA had an immediate comment on Paige’s comments. Both indicated that statements were forthcoming.

Education has been a top issue for governors, who have sought more flexibility from the administration on President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law, which seeks to improve school performance in part by allowing parents to move their children from poorly performing schools.

Democrats have said Bush has failed to fully fund the law, giving the states greater burdens but not the resources to handle them.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, said Paige’s remarks startled the governors, who met for nearly two hours with Bush and several Cabinet officials.

“He is, I guess, very concerned about anybody that questions what the president is doing,” Holden said.

“He was implying that the NEA has not been one of the organizations that has been working with the administration to try to solve ‘No Child Left Behind,”‘ he said.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, said of Paige’s comments: “Somebody asked him about the NEA’s role and he offered his perspective on it.”

Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, a Democrat, said the comments were made in the context of “we can’t be supportive of the status quo and they’re the status quo. But whatever the context, it is inappropriate — I know he wasn’t calling teachers terrorists — but to ever suggest that the organization they belong to was a terrorist organization is uncalled for.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

3 thoughts on “Is the NEA a “terrorist organization”?”

  1. Terrorists! In the classroom!

    Via email, Atrios and Kleiman, we hear about Bush Secretary of Education Rod Paige's hilarious joke: "The NEA is a terrorist organization."

  2. Let Him Twist.

    Secretary of Education Rod Paige, that is. I don't care how much you may not like the National Education Association (I don't, much): explicitly calling it a terrorist organization – even if it was supposed to be a joke –

  3. Terrorists

    Much has been made of those anti-war protesters who held up "Bush=Hitler" signs. The facile comparison of Bush to one of the most evil men in the history of humanity was rightly denounced by the pro-war set. Of course, this helped the right; they wer…

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