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.The entire editorial is available here.
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.