By George F. Will
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Sunday, August 25, 2002
WASHINGTON -- The National Education Association, the largest teachers union, usually concentrates on convincing legislators, against ample contrary evidence, that increasing the number and pay of teachers is certain to improve schools. But now the NEA has gone into wartime mode and become a sensitivity tutor for parents and teachers. The result makes one wish the NEA would stick to misleading legislators.
It has furrowed its brow and thought really, really hard about what parents and teachers should do with children on Sept. 11. The results, on the NEA's Web site (www.neahin.org
), illustrate three things that make the public education establishment a national menace.
One is distrust of parents, whom the NEA obviously considers imbeciles. Another is a politically correct obsession with "diversity" and America's sins. Third, and most repellant, is a therapeutic rather than an educational focus -- an emphasis not on learning but on feelings, not on good thinking but on feeling good.
Jerald Newberry, an NEA functionary who helped develop the material for Sept. 11, says the attacks were "so horrific parents did not know where to start conversations." Beginning with this presumption of parental incompetence, the NEA asked a psychologist, Brian Lippincott of John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, Calif., to provide "tips for parents and teachers," such as: "Use language that is developmentally appropriate for children." Actually, parents are pretty good at doing that even without exhortations or instructions from trade unions or academic psychologists.
One measure of how America has changed in 60 years is Lippincott's and the NEA's emphasis on the need "to comfort each other" and "help those most in need" of emotional bucking-up. On Dec. 7, 1942, there were not armies of people calling themselves members of "the caring professions" and operating on the assumption that Americans were emotional cripples, obsessed with their own feelings....