Vermonters for Better Education
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Bill Corrow is a first rate teacher. His superintendent says so. His students and their parents say so. Corrow, a former teacher, a Vietnam veteran, and an expert on international affairs, teaches a social studies class in Montpelier that is "…a tour from ancient Greece and Rome through the Dark Ages and the Renaissance to the present. They touch on modern themes such as environmentalism, humanism, civil rights, the Geneva Convention, and the United Nations." (Anne Wallace Allen, AP) Sounds like a great course and teacher, right? Everybody thinks so.
Everybody, that is, but the Vermont Education Association. Their field agent, Mark Hage, filed a grievance demanding that Corrow be prohibited from teaching the course because he is a volunteer and isn't being paid. Hage and his union don't care a whit about the content of the course, the teacher's excellence, the students' eagerness, or the parents' satisfaction. They want the money, folks. They claim that Corrow is depriving some teacher of pay.
The VEA's grievance against the Montpelier School District is about a lot more than whether Bill Corrow should be allowed to teach his course without being paid. It is about whether parent or community volunteers should ever be allowed to do anything meaningful in the schools. It is about who is in charge, the union or the superintendent. It is about whether parents and other volunteers have the right to serve the community. The VEA clearly doesn't want parents and volunteers in schools to help kids. It wants to restrict them to bake sales and booster clubs. It wants expanded power.
The VEA and it's parent organization, the NEA, spend a lot of money on public relations campaigns, including continuing and expensive TV announcements, trying to create the image that they have good education and the welfare of school kids at heart. Don't believe it! The NEA and VEA exist for only one purpose, the economic welfare and job security of their union card-carrying members. In 1976, a very recent past president of the NEA and one of my neighbors told me that. He said that any time that a school or education issue, no matter how patently right the issue is, comes into conflict with the welfare of a teacher union member, the NEA will defend the teacher, good or bad, with all of its resources. He did not tell me that cynically. He simply had no illusions that the NEA, his NEA, was about anything else. Nothing has changed.
The VEA leadership and their minions, like Mark Hage, are hypocrites. Their attempts to project an image of benevolence toward the welfare of school children and parents are pharisaical. It is not an image. It is a mask. Strip it away and you see the reality, an unbelievable mean-spiritedness so totally absorbed in self-interest that it doesn't even understand the disgust with which Vermonters are receiving its protest over Bill Corrow's class.
Bernier L. Mayo
November 7, 1999