Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Letter to Maryland State Legislators

Dear state representative:

I'm a resident of Howard County and a teacher with Montgomery County. I'm not a union apologist- in fact, I believe my union is largely a failure when it comes to representing the average teacher- but I do have a question for you.

Are you really planning to increase my retirement contribution to 7% from 5% then use that benefit for the state's general fund instead of the retirement system? Is this really true? Is this legal? I'm sure you've consulted your lawyers already, but my goodness. I'd like to invite each of you to attend my AP Government and AP Economics classes- perhaps you could go over this plan with some of my students. I'm quite confident they could teach you a thing or two.

Please- if this be your plan- if you can't find it in you to locate sound judgement- or if no such judgement exists- let me manage my own retirement. Let me opt out. Send me whatever scraps you have left over for a sucker-teacher like myself and I'll go it alone. It's abundantly clear you have no intention to live up to your end of the "bargain," however unsubstainable that bargain may have been. After all, you haven't fully funded the pension since 2001. But now you're going to increase my personal contribution to the pension WITHOUT increasing the total contribution?   Raise your hand if you came up with this idea!  The pension is 60% funded.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this is an EMERGENCY!

I believe I sacrificed enough money when I decided to become a teacher.  I don't need a bunch of hopeless politicians specifically taxing me and other teachers because they don't have the chutzpah to a) raise taxes on EVERYBODY in order to properly fund the general fund or b) take austerity measures that will impact the services provided to all citizens. Then you wouldn't have to hide a tax increase on teachers from the rest of the state in efforts to make believe everything is just fine so that you can claim victory and get reelected. Either of those options- the 2nd of which would likely be very painful for education- would be a more honest thing to do.

Real leadership is equally measured as it is bold. It does not hide from difficult or unpopular decisions. And it takes responsibility for past mistakes.

I think it's well past time that we see some of that leadership in our state capital.

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