Montgomery County Public Schools
July 26, 2010 by Post Team
Montgomery County Public Schools, I would not be in my position in the Montgomery County Board of Education, but for the Montgomery County Education Association. In 2008, the union wanted to dispose of a school board member who voted against his contract. I wanted a new superintendent, and I knew that the holder supported Dr. Jerry D. Weast. At that time, I believed that a change in leadership would result in changing the corporate culture of Public Schools Montgomery County (MCPS). The EU encourages the thought. So the union and joined forces, but we agreed there would be no quid pro quo – once he was elected, the MCEA ask me anything in return for their help. It has held true to that promise.
Recently, The Post has thrown out allegations that board members who want to cling to their offices are prepared to approve budgets and benefits away from gold plated, just to retain the favor of the MCEA. Thisanlysis misses the target. While it is true that all current board members have got their seats with a certain level of the blessing of the union, I do not think either one of them calls the MCEA of marching orders. Like me, my colleagues act in a sincere desire to achieve the objectives of royal policy. Most council members favor the union, understandable given that binding carefully vetted candidates compatible with the ideology of the union by encouraging them to run, target your campaigns to the extent possible within legal limits, clearing the field of competition and use their political power to direct promotions. In my case, ideology mattered less than usual.
What the critics miss is who really controls the school system superintendent and the entrenched bureaucracy, unaccountable, they do almost all the real decisions. When I mentioned in a recent meeting that next year the school board need to review the current health plan, with its unprecedented and 10 co-payments (if only to keep the rising cost of the benefits of agglomeration academic programs) I knew that my most immediate, harshest critics would in fact be the senior staff. Why? Well, why did someone try one of the best health benefits available? All but about 20 of the school system employees are members of one of the three employee unions, and 20 also benefit directly or indirectly from the union contract concessions.
The person with the most friendly relationship with the union leadership is in fact the superintendent. Thus, when the union felt threatened by an impending state action more strongly linking teacher evaluation to student performance, an “agreement” between MCPS and the unions announced by April 21 – and all but one of its members learned this morning, in the newspaper. Understand that most superintendents these days are busy chasing rabbits and dogs after three times the highest scores on standardized tests, most Advanced Placement tests and be the first to discover that a magical way that leads to closure the achievement gap. Dr. Weast is no exception. In fact, the board has no power to insist on turning fully literate graduates when the bureaucracy has these other rabbits to hunt. From the vision of the administration, a teacher revolt would be a problem especially in a bureaucracy that control central prizes within the track to catch rabbits. Union leaders could always stop the run cold, perhaps the requirement of teacher autonomy.
In the balance of power between the board of education and bureaucracy, the superintendent and his team have all the cards. They outwit, outlast him and play better. In my experience, the board actually has little or no impact on union contract negotiations: The superintendent and his team negotiating contracts. Even if they were ever opposed the royal council, would face a hard wall, staff determined angry.
Given that Dr. Weast is the negotiated contracts, and recommended, the budget and benefits in the last 10 years are now the subject of the complaint is therefore not hypocritical excoriate the MCEA unrealistic for salaries and benefits still commend Dr. Weast and demand that his contract be renewed? Both the Post and voters should consider this issue carefully this fall.
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