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Friday's National Journal story ("Schoolyard Quarrel" -- subscription required) is the first piece I've really paid attention to from reporter Lisa Caruso, who recently moved over from the lobbyist beat to help cover education. She gives prominent placement to DFER -- the new kid on the block -- and to one of their main notions, which is that the teachers unions are a special interest group that doesn't represent what's good for kids. But the special interests / legitimacy argument goes both ways,as union leaders like to point out. Not all the "testing hawks" -- civil rights groups that favor NCLB (Ed Trust, CCCR, La Raza) are led by minorities or are membership organizations represent them in great numbers. Other things I learned or was reminded of: John Yarmuth (D-KY pictured) is shaping up to be the key freshman Democrat on the committee for the anti-NCLB crowd. Ted Kennedy has just as many if not more troubles on the Senate side with his trio of Presidential candidates on the committee (all of whom have endorsed NEA bills, BTW). Somehow, the NEA ($1.65M) isn't among the top 20 PACs for 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, but the AFT ($2.08) ranked #15.