Members of New York State United Teachers have dumped 25,000 angry letters in the Albany office of Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., who has focused on teacher performance in his re-election campaign.
The letters, collected by the American Federation of Teachers affiliate over the past six months, blast Mr. D'Amato for what teachers consider to be unfair and inaccurate attacks and for what the union says is his poor voting record on public education issues.
The senator, who is seeking a fourth term in November, has been campaigning for teacher competency testing, merit pay for good teachers, renewable tenure, and greater parental involvement.
Alan B. Lubin, the executive vice president of the 400,000-member NYSUT, said the letters express "teachers' real anger at being used as a scapegoat by an opportunistic candidate." Some implore Mr. D'Amato to help them obtain computers and new textbooks.
At their convention last month, union members also jammed a political-action center to make phone calls and send faxes expressing their opposition to the senator's positions.
Harvey Valentine, a spokesman for the senator, said "the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers" support Mr. D'Amato.
Appealing for more dollars
To make its case for more special education funding, the American Association of School Administrators took its members' personal stories to Capitol Hill late last month. The group's message, though, was directed at congressional aides--who often do much of the behind-the-scenes work in Washington. In a special briefing, the AASA urged the aides to help persuade their bosses to approve more federal dollars for special education.
Pat Boyer, the director of special education for the 5,000-student Bozeman, Mont., district, told the aides that most of his district's recent funding hikes have gone to special education. Regular education classes are feeling the pinch, and the district still does not have enough money to fully meet the needs of its students with disabilities, he said.
While the number of disabled students has not significantly increased, the costs for services have, Mr. Boyer added.
--ANN BRADLEY & JOETTA L. SACK
Vol. 17, Issue 39, Page 22