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To the Editor:

America's media, including Education Week, have made much of the National Education Association's ominous decision to open merger talks with its longtime rival, the American Federation of Teachers, announced at the N.E.A.'s convention in San Francisco this summer ("N.E.A. Delegates Endorse Talks on Merger of Unions,'' July 14, 1993).

The big news, as far as we're concerned, however, is the N.E.A.'s 1993 "Action Plan for Dealing With Independent, Anti-Union Competitor Organizations,'' which was also released at the San Francisco meeting.

This blueprint to stifle the stirring of dissident voices, many of which are rising from educators within the ranks of the N.E.A. itself, is the union's contemptuous answer to anyone who would dare march to the beat of a drum whose cadence is not under the behemoth union's strict and monopolistic control.

At the same time, the N.E.A. has inadvertently bestowed upon the Coalition of Independent Education Associations the union's highest endorsement--a frontal assault, described in their action plan, that concedes we're beginning to get to them: "... these challenges can pose a threat even if they do not result in overthrow of the dominant N.E.A. (or A.F.T.) affiliate ... by working to legitimize the professional state group's standing and position in the eyes of the media and elective bodies.''

"To legitimize the professional'' is the last thing in the world N.E.A. wants to see happen. For what greater threat could there be to the self-serving union hierarchies than an organized army of independent, dedicated, competent, creative educators who, as "professionals,'' consider the nation's children and youths their highest priority.

With more than 160,000 independent educators represented within its constituent state associations, the C.I.E.A.'s guidelines are threefold: to insure local control of school policy by citizens and taxpayers; to secure for all educators individual freedom from union coercion; and to guarantee accountable and uninterrupted teaching for every student.

Now, if the N.E.A. would call itself "professional,'' why does this powerful, Goliath union bureaucracy find it necessary to devise a strategy to "deal'' with us? The high principles embraced by the noble early founders of the N.E.A. are apparently gone forever. Sad, isn't it?

Davis Bingham
Chairman
Coalition of Independent
Education Associations
Charlotte, N.C.

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