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May 4, 2012

“Desperate” Teachers

Roy Meachum

Men and women who run Frederick County classrooms currently are so desperate. They would take food, medications and shelter from the community’s most vulnerable people.


In the Great Recession, 6,954 county residents received food stamps in 2006; last year their number had swollen to 15,715. According to The Frederick News-Post that interviewed Lindsay Stoughton, the Religious Coalition coordinator, who said her clients include more than several families that have been unemployed for a long while; their benefits run out, they’re trying to pay bills or staying in their homes. Others need one or two dollars to co-pay their prescriptions.


The Gazette’s Margarita Raycheva has a story in this week’s edition. On a happy note it details that Ballenger Creek Middle School teacher Monica Ajlouny has been awarded a home from Habitat for Humanity; she must do 300 “sweat equity hours” acceptable to the organization. She might have trouble making time – even under the “work to contract” ordered by Frederick County Teachers Association head Gary Brennan.


Furthermore, according to the published county salaries list, Monica Ajlouny looks to rake in $43,730 this year. At a time of no pay boosts for teachers in general, The Gazette’s cover girl will receive more than $3,000 more than in 2011. In the heart-wringing account of her travails and troubles, Ms. Ajlouny has worked at three jobs in addition to the hours spent in the classroom. Since moving to Frederick from Detroit, she’s “lived in friends’ basements, cooked in other people’s kitchens and eaten meals with her daughter on a couch.”


Under the present situation, it’s very possible that Gary Brennan was behind the story, which is very sad, but not compared with Warren Harding. The 65-year-old Vietnam veteran lost his job at a rural post office where he had worked on-and-off for 30 years. Mr. Harding told the News-Post’s Nicholas Stern that he lives in his truck; cold weather nights he sleeps in the Religious Coalition’s shelter. Mental Health Association CEO Pat Hanberry said: “People can die of hunger and exposure just as much as they can from fire or an act of violence that police stop.”


While the Board of Education has its own budget granted by the Board of County Commissioners, it comes from Frederick taxpayers’ pockets. The statistics of the growth of food stamp recipients illustrates the general economy, which explains why teachers generally have received no raises in three years, which means the Frederick County Teachers Association waxed fat even after the deep recession started locally. In addition, the Frederick County Board of Education gave the union a one-time bonus of 1.5 percent in its 2011 budget.


No sad violin solo should be played for the men and women in county classrooms. Folding up their tents and scooting off school grounds immediately the work day’s end, they provide horrible adult examples for their students. But, as I suggested in Tuesday’s column, the teachers union is wriggling on the ground and making rude noises.


The teachers are inconsiderate of the people around them. Their union must not dictate ever again to taxpayers holding the girls and boys in their charge – for hostages.


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