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Published in Print: September 29, 2004, as Party of Two Forced Into Consolidation

Party of Two Forced Into Consolidation

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Originally, teacher Jane Dugdale thought there would be for two “house parties” under the wing of the National Education Association here in her Radnor Township School District.

She would host one at her house. And the other, organized by the vice president of the Radnor Township Education Association, would be in the district’s activities building.

“We got [the space] as a matter of course,” said Ms. Dugdale, who teaches English-language learners in the district’s Ithan Elementary School.

But then, hearing that the event had an association with MoveOn.org, a Web-based advocacy group with decidedly liberal leanings, some parents protested. As a result, Superintendent Gary Cooper withdrew permission.

The district is located in Delaware County, right on the border with Montgomery County, two of the four counties in the Philadelphia suburbs that many political analysts say President Bush must win to carry Pennsylvania.

The incumbent lost Pennsylvania, with its weighty 21 electoral votes, in the last election because he didn’t do well enough in those suburban counties, the analysts say. Republicans voters dominate in all four.

With the district building off-limits, Ms. Dugdale and Rick Goldstein, the RTEA vice president, decided to consolidate the discussion at the Dugdale home.

“As soon as I read about the parties [in the NEA magazine], I said, ‘I’ve got to do this,” recalled Ms. Dugdale, who is also active locally in Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign. “Public education is a passion with me.”

Among the invited guests: two school board members, who, like the rest of the seven-member board, are Republicans. One signed the petition calling for more federal spending on public schools, and the other did not.

PHOTO: Radnor Township Commissioner Dave Cannan talks to Anna Dugdale, a Philadelphia teacher and the daughter of “house party” hosts.
—Michael Branscom for Education Week

Vol. 24, Issue 05, Page 13

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