Name that union!

True, Rod Paige should not have called the National Education Association "a terrorist organization." Given the times in which we live, the middle word in that phrase might have been better chosen. (How about "hostile"? "Disgraceful"? "Selfish?" "Anti-child?") But we're cheered by Paige's frequently memorable turns-of-phrase and his stubborn insistence on calling a spade what it is rather than a teaspoon. Such character is in short supply in Washington. Already, the Education Secretary gets credit for the best line in recent political memory, when he described the NCLB opposition as "a coalition of the whining." And we loved his give-no-ground apology for this week's gaffe. In honor of this transformation of mild-mannered educator into take-no-prisoners warrior, we'd like to sponsor a contest for the best description of the NEA. Is it a union of mass destruction? A group of dead-enders? Don't limit yourself to war-on-terror comparisons; let your creative juices flow. Gadfly serves as judge, with points given for wit, style, and economy of phrasing. Multiple entries are encouraged. Author of the best description gets his or her name in next week's issue and a much-desired Fordham tee shirt. Send your entries to backtalk@edexcellence.net.

"Paige calls NEA 'terrorist organization,'" by John King, CNN, February 23, 2004

"Paige's point," Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2004, (subscription required)