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Dick Morris and the ISTA

Here's something interesting I've just stumbled across.

Yes, that's Dick Morris, the toe-sucking former Clinton political adviser-turned-right-wing attack dog. The Indiana State Teachers Association and its financial woes are his target in this video. The Web site appears to be the work of the "Education Action Group." I did some quick searching and found that it originated with a Republican activist in Muskegon, Mich., where the group has been attacking the Michigan Education Association for several years. There's lots of tripe on its Web site about helping school board members ensure tax dollars reach students, but it's a union-bashing group, pure and simple.

The organization's 2007 IRS 990 form shows about $82,000 in contributions, gifts and grants. No clues to who is contributing, but there appear to be ties to the Mackinac Center, a free-market think tank largely funded by conservative foundations and corporate types like the Amway founder.

As for Dick Morris and his sudden interest in ISTA, the union's financial dealings certainly demand scrutiny, but I hope Hoosiers will look for information from sources other than Fox News commentators. ISTA represents the majority of Indiana classroom teachers, none of whom deserve to be smeared by innuendo. They already are facing plenty of challenges.

I don't know about the political clout of the MEA, but ISTA is a shadow of the political organization it once was. Aside from a handful of union activists, ISTA members were silent in the November 2008 election. They clearly weren't keeping an eye on the financial arm of their union or the policy leanings of Indiana candidates.

Apologies once again for the lack of posts in recent weeks. Holidays in the newspaper business mean five days of editorial page work compressed into four. And in spite of the popular view that print is dead and the Internet is the future, The Journal Gazette's printed edition continues to draw tens of thousands of readers; my blog draws, well ... tens. Thanks to each of you for reading.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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