WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Maybe I'm taking it too personally. Earlier
this week, I was informed that a terrorist kingpin who had targeted my
family and me for assassination was killed in Baghdad. Abu Nidal -- real
name, Sabri al-Banna -- apparently died of multiple gunshot wounds, probably
at the hands of his Iraqi hosts.
It was welcome news. But before I could even notify my
offspring, I was handed a copy of the National Education Association's
teacher's guide on how to "Remember Sept. 11." The document offers teachers
and parents "more than 100 age-appropriate lesson plans" on how young people
should recall what happened last year when 3,052 people were murdered in
little more than an hour by 19 Islamic radicals who had hijacked four U.S.
airliners. The NEA lesson plans landed like a wet blanket on the relief I
was enjoying for having a threat removed.
One lesson titled, "Tolerance in Times of Trial," explores "the
problems inherent in assigning blame to populations or nations of people by
looking at contemporary examples of ethnic conflict, discrimination, and
stereotyping at home and abroad." While students "brainstorm a list of
descriptors that come to mind when they hear the word 'terrorist,'" teachers
are to "note how many times 'Arab,' 'Middle East' or 'Muslim' get
mentioned," before asking the students if they think "this characterization
is fair" and whether it compares "to the characterization of
Japanese-Americans and German-Americans during World War II."
This is where it gets personal. When we were forced to evacuate
our home and hide out on a military base because Middle Eastern assassins
were coming to kill my family, it never occurred to me to tell my kids that
the threat resulted from America's miserable human-rights record. Do the
nice folks who prepared the NEA lesson plans really want the widows and
orphans of those who died in last year's unprovoked attack on the World
Trade Center, the Pentagon or aboard Flight 93 in Somerset, Penn., to think
that radical Islamic terrorists aren't responsible for 9-11?
Not once does the NEA-sponsored syllabus refer to the Sept. 11
events as an act of war against the United States. Instead, the union
representing 2.7 million teachers wants the first year anniversary of this
travesty to be turned into a "teachable moment" about "coping, healing and
growing." If only Osama and Saddam benefited from an NEA-inspired education!
Unfortunately, the loony lesson plans the NEA proposes for Sept.
11 are just the beginning. This summer at their 2002 convention in Dallas,
the teacher-activists endorsed a laundry list of failed programs, ranging
from Earth Day and school-based "health clinics" to affirmative action,
socialized medicine, "family planning including the right to reproductive
freedom," open borders and, of course, gun control.
In a plank devoted to "peace and international relations," NEA
delegates offered these nuggets of geopolitical wisdom: "The Association
urges all nations to develop treaties and disarmament agreements that reduce
the possibility of war ... that such treaties and agreements should prevent
the placement of weapons in outer space ... that the United Nations furthers
world peace and promotes the rights of all people by preventing war, racism
and genocide." This level of political sophistication ranks somewhere
between kindergarten and first grade. The platform also notes, "The
development of self-esteem" is central to education, provided that it is
"presented as part of an anti-biased, culturally sensitive program."
The NEA's ideological targets, on the other hand, range from
home-schooled youngsters to President Bush. "The NEA believes that
home-schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive
educational experience," the delegates declared, before demanding that
home-schoolers be denied access to extracurricular activities in public
schools. Never mind that courts in many states have backed the right of
privately educated students to utilize the public school services for which
their parents pay.
When the Supreme Court ruled on June 27 that vouchers are
constitutional, NEA president Bob Chase lashed out against "the voucher
crowd" for spreading "the big lie" that "public education has failed."
Despite the $26.5 billion in new educational spending that Congress passed
as part of President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act, Chase insisted that
the "Bush tax cut" left "no new money ... for public education and
struggling schools." Like his fellow delegates in Dallas, Chase desperately
needs a reality check, not to mention some help with basic addition and
Instead, the NEA offers a one-two punch of enlisting leftist
teachers to "become politically involved and to support the political action
committees of the association and its affiliates," while condemning
"extremist groups" that are "inimical to the ideals of the association."
Which begs the question: If "extremist groups" like the terrorist
organization run by Osama bin Laden which killed over 3,000 Americans on
Sept. 11 isn't "inimical to the ideals of the association," who is?
Home-schoolers and Republicans?
The NEA -- and other 9-11 Deniers -- cannot be trusted to
"Remember Sept. 11," when they refuse to forthrightly acknowledge what
really happened on that terrible Tuesday morning. Wouldn't it be nice to
have a teacher's union that didn't want to blame America first?