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“ ‘Voucher programs rob public-school students of scarce resources,’ said Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, a teachers union.”

Starting a few years back, every mention of the NEA in the media is followed by the phrase “a teachers union.” Knowing the anti-labor bias of the media, I assume this is not intended as a compliment.

I asked Dan Marzoni, president of the Arkansas Education Association, an NEA affiliate, if teachers were offended by the label. “We call ourselves an association,” he said. “We do not have a problem with the word ‘union’ but many of those who use it do so negatively. They want to associate us with union excesses of the ’50s. We sometimes act like a union — we want to negotiate and have collective bargaining — but we also run the largest professional development conference in the state every November. Our interests lie in making great public schools.”

Another favorite media phrase is labor-funded. Any think tank that has ever gotten a dollar from unions is described as “labor-funded.” But if a conservative think tank issues a report saying that corporations are over-taxed and over-regulated, the media don’t bother to report that the organization is “corporate-funded.”

“I wonder if this Frank fellow ever had a pet that endeared itself to him despite not always being the sharpest knife in the drawer and a lot of trouble to boot.” — A letter to the editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, published July 20.

“Paul has repeatedly proved that he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but at least he knows to pander to the customers who buy the newspaper.” — Another letter, same newspaper, same day.

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer seems to be a fashionable way of suggesting that a person is dumb. Some years back, not playing with a full deck was used a lot, although that may have suggested insanity more than stupidity. I think I’ve heard not the brightest light on the tree, or did I just make that up? I’m not sure. Memory grows dull.

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