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UE Members Promote
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UE News

Page One:
Delegates Tell Congress to Get Real (Introduction)

Page Two:
No More NAFTAs! Lobbying Against Fast Track and FTAA

Page Three:
Delegates Cheer Congressional Allies

• Page Four:
Defending Public Education

Page Five: 
Delegates (and an Articulate Teenager) Demand Closing School of Assasins

Page Six:
Conference Photo


Read the issues briefings conference delegates received in Political Action ...

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Steve Nousen of the National Education Association
Steve Nousen of the National Education Association gives UE members a briefing on education issues, asks for their assistance.

In visits on Capitol Hill, UE members made defense of public education a priority. Rank-and-file lobbyists argued for school construction and modernization and against vouchers, privatization and high-stakes testing.

Steve Nousen of the National Education Association told Political Action Conference delegates, "You guys can really be saviors of public education when you go out on Capitol Hill."

Nousen, federal lobbyist for the 2.6 million-member NEA, gave UE members a briefing which stressed the urgent importance of opposition to vouchers and support for school construction and modernization.

A history teacher for 14 years, Nousen traced the growth of public education from the inadequate schooling of the child labor era to the scientific revolution. "We are educating more people to a higher standard than we ever have — and we’re told we’re failing," Nousen said.

The NEA supports the goals of the Bush Administration to "leave no child behind," literacy by the third grade and generally higher standards. But the teachers’ union argues that all schools deserve the investment that makes these goals attainable.


Delegates examine Conference documents ...

Mary Lou Welter, Local 893, Sam Lopez, Local 896, and Mary Dobrochowksi, Local 893, examine Conference documents. Just barely visiible is Bill Austin, Local 893.

"Don’t tell us we need a $1.6 trillion tax cut which benefits mostly the rich, when in fact you’re going to spend less than one-fortieth of that on public education," Nousen said. "That’s not fair. Give us the input, we’ll give you the output."

The NEA is currently under attack, Nousen said. "Our union is fighting back as best we can against folks who are telling us we’re no good, telling us because we’ve failed and take money away from public schools."

The largest corporations in the U.S. are funding an ad campaign on behalf of school choice. "But they don’t tell you they want to give you $1,500 toward a private school education that might cost $5,000, if you’re lucky, or $10,000," Nousen said. The teacher reminded delegates of the arbitrary and discriminatory admittance policies of private schools, or their exemption from disclosing test scores. Special needs students are not welcome.

Vouchers are a drain on public school systems, he said. "It’s discriminatory, it’s class warfare, it’s everything this country has not been for, for a very long time," Nousen declared.


Aides to Sen. George Voinovich respond defensively ...

Aides to Sen. George Voinovich respond defensively to District 7 Pres. Joyce Clayborne, Nina Williams, Local 799, and Will Anderson, Local 792.

The NEA representative spoke at length in support of HR 1076, a school construction and modernization plan, introduced by Nancy Johnson (R., Conn.) and Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) This bill, which has 105 co-sponsors, including 20 Republicans, would allow the federal government to buy up interest on local school bond issues to free up money needed for construction and modernization.

The average school is more than 50 years old, and many are older, Nousen pointed out. These buildings are not only not wired for the Internet but suffer from leaky plumbing and other structural defects.

Despite the need, the Bush budget contains no funds for modernization and construction, Nousen said. "We must earmark at the federal level — otherwise poor districts will continue to be poor."

Many UE delegates followed through on the NEA lobbyist’s request, speaking on behalf of HR 1076 in meetings with lawmakers.

See also: Who Cares About Public Education? (UE News Feature)

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2001 UE Political Action Conference -> Education

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