US Teachers Protest Serb Attacks
By Stateline Staff
In a letter sent to President Bill Clinton last Friday, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) voiced their support of NATO air raids over the Kosovo province in former Yugoslavia.
"We heard that 20 teachers were hanged in front of the children they teach," Kathleen Lyons of the NEA said. The American unions heard the news from Agim Hyseni, the President of the Union of Education, Science and Culture of Kosova. But Lyons said she had not yet been able to verify his report.
"This is a true atrocity of war and we wanted the President to take strong action, which he has," she said.
The letter sends a forceful signal to President Clinton that more than 3 million of America's teachers support U.S. and NATO policy in the former Yugoslavia. They also urged steps to end ethnic cleansing on behalf of the Kosovar teachers' union.
AFT spokesman Greg King said the unions are concerned by news reports and reports from the Kosovar union that educators are being singled out by Serb soldiers and police. "We've had clear reports that as many as 53 (ethnic-Albanian instructors) have been murdered in recent weeks," he said.
The AFT has been working with the Kosovar teachers since the beginning of the decade and they are closely monitoring the plight of instructors there. It is not unusual for either U.S. union to support educators internationally.