The Campaign for America’s Future and MoveOn.org have
purchased billboard advertising at three subway stations and three bus
stop kiosks in downtown Washington criticizing Secretary of Education
Rod Paige for his February remarks likening the National Education
Association to a "terrorist organization."
Mr. Paige later apologized for his comments. Yet he appears to be far from placating the groups, judging from their ads, which begin with the line "250,000 Tell Bush Team: You Flunk."
That refers to an online petition sponsored by the two organizations and signed by more than a quarter-million people that calls on President Bush to fire Mr. Paige. The ads accuse Mr. Bush of failing to fully finance the No Child Left Behind Act, and they close with this word play: "It’s time to turn the Paige."
Education Department spokeswoman Susan Aspey said the ads amount to "special-interest politicking."
She also said the ads incorrectly imply that Mr. Paige was referring to teachers when he made his "terrorist organization" remark. The secretary, during his apology, had made it clear he was only referring to the NEA’s leadership, she said.
One ad appears in the L’Enfant Plaza subway station, the exit of choice for many employees at the Education Department’s headquarters. Ms. Aspey said she believed that Mr. Paige, who like other Cabinet members is driven to work, had not seen the ads in person.
Toby Chaudhuri, a spokesman for the Campaign for America’s Future, said the ads cost $12,000, money that came from signers of the petition.
"It made sense, strategically, to surround his office," Mr. Chaudhuri said of the education secretary.
Vol. 23, Issue 36, Page 25Published in Print: May 12, 2004, as Federal File