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Eye On Boise

Ad Watch: New Idaho pro-school reform ad takes 2009 video clip out of context

The latest campaign commercial in the school reform fight comes from "Yes for Idaho Education," the group leading the campaign in favor of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, and features an edited clip from a July 2009 retirement speech by then-National Education Association general counsel Bob Chanin, talking about why he believed the NEA had become an effective advocate during the 41 years he'd been with the group. That's not what the ad says the clip is about, however.

"Listen to the national teachers union as they explain why the union is spending millions to defeat education reform like Props 1, 2 and 3 in Idaho," the ad states. It then plays this edited clip from Chanin's speech: "It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. It's because we have power." The narrator then says, "Don't let the union stop education reform in Idaho - vote yes on Props 1, 2 and 3."

However, not only is the statement not about why the NEA is backing the campaign against the reforms - which campaign finance reports show it's doing to the tune of $1.07 million so far - the clip is of statements made more than two years before Idaho's reform laws even passed. The same cropped video clip has been used repeatedly over the past three years to try to discredit the NEA, notably in February of 2011 by Sean Hannity on Fox News and by conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, both of whom used the clip to suggest that the national teachers union doesn't care about children; and in a March 2011 anti-union ad from Crossroads GPS and Karl Rove that prompted criticisms both from the NEA and the conservative Cato Institute; Talking Points Memo reported here on that dustup.

Yes for Idaho Education has not yet responded to reporters' inquiries about its new ad.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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