‘Tensions Have Been Rising’ Between Teachers and Union Officials

Early this year, dozens of Annapolis High School (AHS) teachers pleaded in writing to the hierarchy of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County union (TAAAC/NEA) not to push through a contract that cuts their compensation. But their pleas were ignored. Image: WMAR-TV (ABC, Baltimore)


When Free State science teacher Angela Ross accepted a job at Annapolis High School (AHS) roughly a decade ago, special bonuses then available to teachers who were willing to work at that troubled institution were a critical factor in her decision.

As Cindy Huang of the Capital Gazette, Annapolis’ principal newspaper, reported in March, the bonuses were the result of a “state approved plan by former Superintendent Kevin Maxwell to make dramatic improvements in a school struggling to make academic progress . . . .”

Soon after the plan was rolled out, student achievement at AHS did indeed begin to improve.

Unfortunately for AHS teachers, as well as for the students and parents who depend on their services, soon after Ross was hired education officials began caving in to teacher union-boss pressure to whittle away the AHS incentives. And early this year, union officials prevailed upon school authorities to scrap the remainder of them over the next two years.

Compared to other high schools in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools system, AHS has, to quote Huang, “a large population of students struggling with poverty or learning English.” Unless such schools are able to offer experienced teachers special incentives to educate their students, they tend to be staffed almost entirely by less experienced teachers.

That’s why Maxwell sought and obtained authority to offer teachers bonuses for taking a job at AHS, for helping students reach certain standards, and for staying on.

But government union bosses like Bill Jones, chief of the National Education Association (NEA)-affiliated Teacher Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC) union, insist teacher pay differentials should be based exclusively on seniority and paper credentials. That’s why it’s not surprising Jones and his TAAAC cohorts began working to water down the AHS incentives and ultimately eliminate them almost as soon as they were implemented.

This year, as Huang reported in early May, “tensions have been rising between” AHS “teachers and union [officials] because of pay disagreements.” Dozens of teachers pleaded in writing to the TAAAC brass to preserve the incentives for their school that had not previously been eliminated.

Now that their pleas have been ignored, a number of AHS educators are backing a request by math teacher Robin Schmidt to the Maryland Public School Labor Relations Board. Schmidt is asking either that the current officers of the TAAAC union be ordered to resign, or that AHS teachers be allowed to break away from the Anne Arundel County “bargaining unit.” Speaking of Jones, the TAAAC director, and his associates, Schmidt told an interviewer, “They don’t have my back. They don’t have my best interest [at heart].”  (See the news story linked below for more information.)

What’s happening in Anne Arundel County, a jurisdiction located south of Baltimore, is a typical consequence of government-authorized monopolistic unionism.

Today, more than 30 states have laws on the books empowering government union bosses to speak for all public servants who choose not to join their organizations, as well as those who do, in discussions with the employer concerning pay, benefits, and work rules. Many teachers, such as those who are qualified for school teacher positions that school administrators normally have trouble filling, routinely get paid less due to union monopoly bargaining.

And in Maryland and roughly a dozen-and-a-half other states that authorize compulsory union dues and fees in the government sector, educators who get paid less as a consequence of being unionized actually have to bankroll the Big Labor bosses who are cutting their compensation. Elimination of union bosses’ monopoly-bargaining and forced-dues privileges is essential for meaningful education reform.

Annapolis High teacher asks state agency to remove union …

CapitalGazette.comMay 2, 2017