What exactly does this have to do with teaching?

? I normally take CNS News with a grain of salt, but this morning they are on the mark with their report that the American Federation of Teachers have adopted an official stance on …… the war in Iraq (among other non-school related positions). Mystifying. Here’s the story:

(CNSNews.com) – Just weeks after the National Education Association came under fire for adopting a controversial resolution that critics said didn’t apply to public education, another teachers union has adopted resolutions opposing the war in Iraq, supporting Israel in its struggle against Hizballah and opposing Wal-Mart.

At its biennial convention July 19-22, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) adopted an official position against the war in Iraq, calling on U.S. officials to “withdraw all troops, bases and military operations in a rapid and timely manner and to put a stop to the unending military presence that will waste lives and resources, undermine our nation’s security and weaken our military.”

They also approved a “special order of business” resolution condemning Hezbollah:

The 1.3 million-member union also approved a “special order of business” resolution that criticizes Hizballah for kidnapping two Israeli soldiers, an act that is blamed for inciting the Israeli shelling of Hizballah positions in southern Lebanon.

“[T]he American Federation of Teachers condemn the bombings, killings and kidnappings by Hezbollah and Hamas that precipitated this current crisis,” the resolution stated. It added that “the AFT recognize Israel’s right and responsibility to defend its borders and citizens from terrorist attacks and other threats to its sovereignty.”

The also took some other ‘official positions’ such as:

The union also approved a resolution vowing to “monitor the condition of human and trade union rights in China” and “demand that the Chinese government extend to all Chinese citizens their basic human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion.”

Other resolutions encouraged members to boycott Wal-Mart because of the retail giant’s alleged anti-union efforts and reiterated the AFT’s longstanding support for abortion rights.

Ok. While it’s perfectly normally have personal opinions on all of the above issues – as we all do, can someone tell me what exactly does adopting ‘official positions’ on any of those issues have to do with educating our children … outside of laying the groundwork for indoctrinating them?

Jaime Zapata, a spokesman for the AFT, told Cybercast News Service that union members voted on these issues because “we believe that there is a direct connection between what happens here in the United States and what happens around the world.”

He said union members voice their opinions on issues outside the realm of education because “so many of our members are involved in other areas of civic life.”

Zapata said the issue of whether the AFT should address non-education related topics “didn’t come up at all” during debate on the resolutions. He added that the union has members “who work not just as teachers or school staff but as other professionals, public employees, higher education workers, health care workers, so our work … extends beyond the classroom in every sense.”

I see. By Zapata’s logic, if you work for a corporation and are involved in civics work outside of the office, and you’re having a quarterly meeting about matters related to company operations, it’s perfectly logical to push for official company resolutions on political issues in addition to advocating changes or tweaks in company operational procedures.

Makes sense.

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