A former leader of the violent left-wing activist group the Weather Underground whose ties to Senator Obama have recently come under scrutiny gave a lecture yesterday to education students at an upstate university.
William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a founding member of the group that bombed the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon in the 1970s, spoke to a group of about 30 people at the State University of New York at New Paltz about education in a democratic society.
The link between Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers, who was introduced yesterday as a professor and author, surfaced last week through a report documenting Mr. Ayers's $200 contribution in 2001 to Mr. Obama, who was then an Illinois state senator.
In his lecture yesterday, Mr. Ayers did not mention Mr. Obama or make any direct reference to the Weather Underground. Asked after the event about his relationship with Mr. Obama, Mr. Ayers said he had no comment.
Mr. Ayers spoke to the audience about his experiences as a teacher in New York City and his fears that the public school system in America is on track to become completely privatized. He also criticized incentive payments for teachers, saying the majority of students who do well on standardized tests come from high-income families.