Thursday, February 11, 2010

Washington Post: In Montgomery County, scare tactics by teachers union are the norm

An editorial in today's Washington Post criticizes the tactics of the Montgomery County Education Association, a union that represents 11,000 MCPS teachers. (Union membership is optional, but even teachers who decline to join the union are required to pay dues.)

The editorial begins:
MONTGOMERY COUNTY schools are among the best in the nation, a point of pride for the community and a springboard for their students. The system's teachers -- well qualified, professional and highly committed -- are its driving engine. That's why the heavy-handed tactics and occasional political thuggery of the union that represents them do a disservice not only to the county and its much-admired school system but to the teachers themselves.

As we noted on this page last week, the union, known as the Montgomery County Education Association, which represents 11,000 teachers, has increasingly played the part of kingmaker in races for local state legislative seats. Starting in 2006, it embarked on a policy of soliciting "contributions" from the candidates it endorsed on its influential "Apple Ballot." These contributions, often up to the state limit of $6,000, are said to be voluntary, and are meant to defray the cost of the union's mailings and other campaign materials.

Some candidates told us the mailings were worth it. Others said they felt compelled to pay, for fear of incurring the union's wrath, and a few who ran, or thought about running, said the union sought to intimidate them in various ways. A number of officials, including some who paid the union and some who did not, told us they saw the "contributions" as shakedowns, pure and simple. "I felt it was creepy then, and I still feel that way now," said one person subjected to the union's aggressive bid for funds.
The entire editorial is available here.


  1. Note that the MCEA PAC public records show that NO individual teachers have ever contributed to their own PAC.

  2. For over 30 years, the Board of Education has been majority controlled by MCEA endorsed candidates.

    Never have I heard teachers profess happiness with the BoE.

    Has it occurred to the union that the candidates that win their endorsement aren't necessarily the best choices? Has it occurred to the teachers that their union is not very good at picking winners?

    What we now know is that going forward, Board of Education candidates will have proven their ability to raise campaign money. Enough so that $6,000 won't be a problem when the positions on the board pay 15 grand. Is this the skill set we want as a requirement to win Board of Ed seats? It seems the MCEA has made it a very high priority.

    Does anyone believe such a system is capable of placing superior student outcomes as its top goal? Discovering that the Apple ballot is tainted may be less important than the 30 year track record of churning out subservient and mediocre leaders.

    It's understandable that a group such as the MCEA, having achieved such heights of influence, would not consider surrendering the power they have wielded so ineffectively, but it's what should be done anyway.

    Kudos to Delegate Mizeur for her courageous stand. I hope voters will recognize the advantage of such independent voices and resolve to keep them in place so others might dare to be so bold.


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