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Campaign advisor comments on controversial education ads

New education ads are stirring up some controversy around the state.

The commercials, which support education propositions 1, 2, and 3, have been running on Local News 8 since the first of the week.

They feature clips of a speech from former National Education Association General Counsel Bob Chanin.

Chanin’s speech isn’t in reference to any of the propositions. He made that speech three years ago when he left his post at the NEA.

“Listen to the national teacher’s union as they explain why the union is spending millions to defeat education reform, like props 1, 2, and 3 in Idaho. It is not because of the merit of our positions, it is not because we care about children and it is not because we want a great public school for every child. It’s because we have power,” states the original ad from Yes for Idaho Education.

YIE is a committee formed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter to promote education reform.

On Tuesday, a new version ran with an altered introduction.

“Listen to the national teacher’s union explain why they are so affective at spending millions to oppose education reform, like propositions 1, 2, and 3 in Idaho,” it says.

Campaign advisor Ken Burgess in Boise said the revised ad is intended to put Chanin’s three-year-old comments into context.

“We tweaked that just a little bit to broadly illustrate the point,” said Burgess.

Burgess wants to shed light on recent sunshine reports that show the NEA has shelled out more than a million dollars to the Vote No on Propositions 1, 2, and 3 campaign.

But how accurate is the ad?

Reporter Jessica Crandall found Chanin’s original 25-minute speech in full to put these soundbites in context.

In that video, Chanin describes the history of the NEA and refers to an increase in attacks from the nation’s conservative right.

“That brings me to my final and most important point which is why, at least in my opinion, NEA and it’s affiliates are such effective advocates,” said Chanin.

Channin goes on to say it comes from millions of teachers paying dues because they believe in the union.

“NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power,” said Chanin.

Anyone can find out who funds the committees behind these ads by visiting the secretary of state’s website.

Crandall obtained a list of all the donors to the YIE committee. Melaleuca Inc. is listed as the giving the biggest contribution at $50,000.

State Rep. Mack Shirley in Rexburg said two other groups supporting the propositions are under fire for not releasing donors’ names. This does not include the YIE committee.

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