Kemp Volunteers To Bring Dole To Meet With NEA Leaders
Republican vice presidential nominee Jack F. Kemp said last week that he and GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole would gladly meet with the nation's largest teachers' union.
According to The Washington Post, Mr. Kemp was winding down a speech at Dublin Coffman High School near Columbus, Ohio, when he was asked why he and Mr. Dole have not talked with leaders of the National Education Association.
Mr. Dole has angered teachers by blaming unions for contributing to the poor state of many schools. His main education initiative, a voucher proposal, is opposed by the NEA leadership and many teachers.
"You write NEA and ask them to invite Jack Kemp and Bob Dole," Mr. Kemp reportedly told the questioner, who then asked if the candidates would accept such an offer.
"I'm answering for Bob Dole and Jack Kemp. We will go anywhere in this country and speak to any group that will stop long enough to give us a chance to talk about our issues," Mr. Kemp said.
Mr. Dole has criticized the union in several speeches, including his acceptance speech at the Republican convention. ("Addressing Schools, Dole Hails Vouchers, Hammers Union," Aug. 7, and "Dole, Clinton at Odds on Education," Sept. 4, 1996.)
Robert F. Chase, the new president of the NEA, said he will invite Mr. Dole and Mr. Kemp to a meeting with Don Cameron, the union's executive director, and himself.
He hopes they will discuss Mr. Dole's stance on vouchers, his perceptions about the state of America's public schools, and the relationship between the union and its members.
"We're taking Mr. Kemp's remarks yesterday as genuine," Mr. Chase said. He added that he had not been contacted personally by the Dole-Kemp campaign and that he read news accounts of Mr. Kemp's statements.
The letter will go out "in the next couple of days," Mr. Chase said.
To secure the loyalty of voters under the age of 30, a prominent pollster says, a political party must emphasize one issue--education.
Writing in the September/October issue of The New Democrat, the magazine of the Democratic Leadership Council, Stanley B. Greenberg suggests that education is the only issue on which "this increasingly independent-minded [voting] bloc" is unified. And he encourages Democrats to use school issues to win young voters' loyalty.
"Voters under 30 are relatively innocent--not yet shaped by some profound political event like the Depression or a war, not yet affiliated with organizations like unions, not yet married with children, and not yet deeply invested in broad federal programs," Mr. Greenberg writes. "They are united, however, in their belief in the importance of education.
"The challenge for new Democrats is to elevate the discussion of education to a bigger principle about government's role in society. If we succeed, we may win over this generation, and keep its allegiance for some time to come."
Mr. Greenberg's observations spring from the DLC's Youth Project, which is seeking to engage young voters in the centrist Democratic politics it espouses.
The project pulled together 50 Minnesotans under 30 to observe a videotape of political and cultural leaders and to discuss politics.
Mr. Greenberg wrote that even more important than winning over young voters, the Democrats' emphasis on education "may give new life to progressive Democratic politics" if couched in government policies that "empower people who have been responsible."
Mr. Dole has named William J. Bennett as a co-chairman of his presidential campaign.
Mr. Bennett, who was secretary of education under President Reagan, was one of Mr. Dole's most severe critics during the Republican primaries.
In recent weeks, however, he has become a spokesman for the campaign on education policy.