Behind North Market’s yellow door sits a shiny school bell awarded me by Maryland teachers’ union for services rendered to the cause of higher pay for women and men in the state’s classrooms. Their salaries in those days started at less than $15,000 a year.
Augmenting my Frederick News-Post columns, I also showed up for a massive rally on East Church Street, where the Frederick County Public Schools headquarters were then located, across from Winchester Hall and up the block. Stuart Berger was the superintendent. Frederick Police Lt. Harold Domer arrived with attack dogs that prompted me to write curiously: these highly educated people were usually entrusted with the community’s children – without the canine sentries. It made no sense to me.
The next year’s Board of Education budget improved the situation. Then the payroll escalated: in the last 10 years alone the county paid 58 percent more to people meeting the state requirement of achieving their master’s degrees or the equivalent 30 hours. That seems fair in light of the broad advances in instructions, including electronic aids.
While I skipped football practice for typing class, the widespread use of computers in this profession startled me while living in Egypt. I taught myself, while grinding out words on a machine George Delaplaine gave me. Insisting on something more than a bachelor’s degree seems only fair.
There’s noisy rhubarb, as you’ve heard, about the budget today; as the writing indicates I’m not totally hostile to the Board of County Commissioners’ stance that the taxpayers’ larders are bare. I view the $100 checks promised for residential property owners a mere pittance in this time when real estate values have dropped precipitously and chronic unemployment reigns.
After all, the 58 percent raise came when times boomed! I know that pay increases have diminished in the last three years – but not vanished entirely. Being on a fixed income, as most seniors are, inflation is nibbling on my security, yet prices veer higher and higher. The Frederick County Teachers Association has managed to secure for its members assistance with the cost of living; its president, Gary Brennan, came aboard merely 26 years ago, according to news sources, when the spade work was already done in restoring dignity and teachers’ pockets jingled.
Two weeks ago (March 20) Mr. Brennan proclaimed to the community that Frederick’s teachers will “work to contract.” Ballenger Creek Elementary School immediately canceled its annual talent show. School Board President Angie Fish pointed out children are the big losers – and I strenuously agree. Grown-ups acting like juveniles. What a damned pity!
The hundreds howling missed their chance two years ago. Board of County Commissioners’ President Blaine Young and the candidates running with him were very open. They vowed to cut county spending wherever they could not justify expenditures to themselves and their constituency. Everybody who sat home on Election Day 2010 must blame themselves for the mess.
Today happens to be 2012 Primaries Tuesday. If you don’t stop by a polling place, you forfeit your chance to determine how the county and the school system are run. You’ve been warned – through this column!!!!