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From the looks of things, nationally syndicated commentator and hometown icon Rush Limbaugh has members of the National Education Association just where he wants them: making ridiculous proclamations. Convening in New Orleans, the NEA voted Monday to boycott Florida orange juice because Mr. Limbaugh is a commercial spokesman for the product. If this is an organization that purports to speak for 2.2 million American teachers and desires to gain a foothold in Cape Girardeau, we must question what is going on in our nation's educational system.

One would hope that the business of 10,000 assembled educators would be education. That isn't the case in New Orleans, where the nation's largest teachers' union did what many unions grow good at: practicing politics while the more overriding concerns of the rank and file take a back seat. In this important matter, NEA leadership chose a path that, if successful (it won't be), will hurt the producers of an agricultural product more than it will hurt the true target (Mr. Limbaugh), whose livelihood depends little on a single endorsement deal.

The person who initiated the boycott proposal is president of the Florida NEA. Talk about not knowing which side your bread is buttered on, this man hopes to injure some of the people whose taxes pay for public education in his home state. We suppose this individual will protest the next time citrus growers don't get behind higher taxes for schools.

Above all, we stand mystified that NEA members don't have better items for their agenda than the ideological bent of those who produce a breakfast drink (though ads instruct us it's not just for breakfast anymore). A spokesman for Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles got off a good line Monday. Asked whether the governor had a position on the Limbaugh commercial deal, the spokesman said, "It's not a political product, it's a citrus product." We revise this wisdom for the NEA: It's not a political product, it's an educational product, and you need to give it some attention.