Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is MCEA any different?

The Montgomery County teacher's union, MCEA, recently reprinted this post by Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post.   But as I read it over, I couldn't help but think that my union, MCEA, was no different than the political machine that created the problems Strauss blogs about:

[If we cared about children] we would never tolerate a poverty rate among children of 21 percent.

That’s one in five kids who live in poverty, or nearly 15 million children in the United States who live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, currently pegged at $22,050 a year for a family of four.

And that, of course, doesn’t include the kids who live in families of four who make $22,051 a year. Or $22,052. In fact, research shows that families need an income of about twice the poverty level to cover basic costs, so at that rate, 42 percent of American children live at or close enough to the poverty level so that basics aren’t being covered.

Which groups in the U.S. are least likely to be in poverty?   The old.   Those on social security.   It is the same group of people who are politically active.   Those unable to vote?   Most likely to be in poverty.

Now let's talk about the haves and have nots in our union.    A 1st year teacher makes half as much as a teacher who has taught for twenty years.     A 1st year teacher is involuntarily transferred before a more senior teacher.   A 1st year teacher must be fired before a more senior teacher.   If our children are the second class citizens of society, then our new teachers are the second class citizens of the union.

I went to an MCEA Representative Assembly meeting in December.  My first.   The median age in that room must have been 50 years old.   Retired teachers have more of a say in our union than new teachers.  This is not hyperbole.   I could count on one hand the number of teachers under 30 at the meeting.  This despite the fact that 60% of our teachers have less than 10 years of experience.   Of course, this is just democracy in action.

We can say we're a democracy, but that doesn't mean we represent the interests of our constituents.  It is much more likely that we represent the interests of those who are politically active.   And that's why we continue to have arcane seniority rules.   And it's why we'll continue to have reform dictated to us from above.

Pleasant testing, kids.

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