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No endorsement from teachers' union

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska chapter of the National Education Association decided Saturday that it will not endorse a candidate for governor.

After a day spent interviewing Democrat Fran Ulmer and Republican Frank Murkowski and debating whether to back a candidate, the 42 members of the union's political action committee decided not to recommend a candidate to NEA members, said NEA president Rich Kronberg.

''We think we can do more educating people on the issues than backing a specific candidate,'' he said. Kronberg said the committee, whose union represents 11,500 teachers and educators, clearly preferred Ulmer to Murkowski.

Ulmer favors legislation that would increase education funding every year with the pace of inflation. She also wants higher teacher salaries.

Murkowski opposes the so-called ''inflation proofing'' measure and wants to re-examine how the state spends education money.

Kronberg said the committee liked some of Murkowski's ideas, such as a grant of land that could be developed, with the money used to fund education.

The NEA endorsed Democrat Steve McAlpine for governor in 1994, but has not supported gubernatorial candidates since. Kronberg said that an endorsement can hinder the group's ability to communicate with members and politicians on education issues.

''There was a preference on committee for the (Ulmer) but this was overridden by a desire to communicate effectively,'' Kronberg said.



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