Departments

GOP Shift on Education Pleases Moderates, Teacher Delegates

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints

Some moderate Republican lawmakers found a sympathetic audience of teachers’ union members this week as they talked up a shift in their party’s approach to education during the 2000 GOP convention.

The National Education Association—which has 42 members serving as delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention this week in Philadelphia—on Tuesday sponsored a forum to honor legislators the organization has endorsed.

“I was very proud of my political party last night,” said U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., referring to the convention’s focus on education on Monday night, the first night of the four-day- long convention.

Mr. Castle was not alone in asserting that this week’s convention offered a more positive emphasis on education and an increased discussion of a legitimate federal role in schools than Republican conventions of years past. He and other members of Congress gave their insights during a panel discussion.

“A few of us have been chiding our party” to do more on education, said Rep. Castle, who is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families.

“What a difference this convention is over some of the others I’ve been at,” added U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio.

Many Republicans this week have been quick to stress that the party platform this year—adopted Monday afternoon—deletes any reference to abolishing the U.S. Department of Education. The change is consistent with the active federal role Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the party’s presumptive nominee for president, has advocated in his campaign.

“That’s a step in the right direction,” said U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. While pointing out that federal funding makes up only a small percentage of the money spent in the nation’s schools, he noted that the federal contribution is “an important 7 to 8 percent.”

Sen. Voinovich said he was also pleased with the interest Laura Bush—the Texas governor’s wife— has taken in education. “The first lady has the possibility of being a teacher,” he said. Mrs. Bush is a former teacher and school librarian.

Other Republican lawmakers who attended the event included U.S. Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont and U.S. Reps. Constance A. Morella of Maryland, Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut, and Amo Houghton Jr. of New York. The event was co-sponsored by the Republican Mainstream Committee, the Republican Main Street Partnership, and the Wish List, a pro-choice organization.

Laura Bush Strikes Chord

Mrs. Bush spoke on Monday night about education, and her remarks were warmly received by some of the NEA members.

“When somebody speaks from the heart about education, you can hear the sincerity in their voice,” said Jeff Osanka, an alternate who teaches at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore. “It is clear that [Laura Bush] genuinely believes that education is the No. 1 issue in this country.”

Suzanne Emery, chair of the Republican caucus of the California Teachers’ Association, an NEA affiliate, said she is pleased to see a growing number of Republican delegates who are teachers. Ms. Emery is herself a teacher at Mira Mesa Senior High School in San Diego.

Although the total number of actual teachers was unavailable, the number of NEA members who are delegates and alternates has grown from about 30 in 1996 to 42 this year. There are 2,066 delegates overall at the convention and an equal number of alternates.

NEA President Bob Chase attributed the rise in part to the Republican Party itself.

“I think they’re becoming involved in the Republican Party on issues of education because the Republican Party is reaching out and wanting to be more involved on issues relating to public education in a positive way,” Mr. Chase said. “It’s a good relationship, a positive relationship, and one that I hope will continue to grow.”

Despite the growth, far more NEA members, at least 325, are expected to be delegates and alternates to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles later this month. The NEA in July endorsed Vice President Al Gore, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Anita Harvey, a delegate from Bonita, Calif., who teaches at the Smythe Elementary School in San Ysidro, said it can be challenging at times for her as a Republican member of the NEA. For example, she said the NEA has buttons that say, “I am the NEA and I support Gore.”

She said that she took her button and covered up “Gore” with a sticker that said “Bush.”

Web Only

Related Stories

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >