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April 14, 2014

Representing Two Masters

Jill King

The Frederick County Teachers Association (FCTA) came out with its list of endorsements last week; none of them, of course, are shocking. If you were running against a teacher, would you even bother to apply for their endorsement?


Two teachers made the cut.


Due to our new form of government, the Charter Writing Committee determined that it should be up to the public to weed out persons who lacked qualifications, or those who were not ready to fill shoes of representation.


What the real questions here are: Is it ethical for them to be allowed to vote on matters that include education or Board of Education funding? Are they knowledgeable of more than one issue? Will they be allowed to participate in conversations involving over 50% of our tax funding going to the Board of Education?


Jerry Donald, a Frederick teacher for over 25 years, has placed his name on the ballot. From the start, he came out with a Facebook post against the "Bartlett's and Blaine Young's of the world, upon finding he would be running against Ellen Bartlett in District 1.


It is odd that Grace Hallenbeck is not a threat, even though a running mate who is knowledgeable on Charter after working with one for over 25 years. That would be a huge fear, especially when the format is different and will be difficult to understand the do's and don'ts in the first term.


If Mr. Donald should win, would he be able to bury the hatchet and work with Blaine Young, if he successfully becomes county executive? The answer is on his website; of course not!


You see, Jerry finds that the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) should be the floor, not the ceiling. Maybe what he doesn't understand is that the FCTA mantra he has been hearing is untrue.


The current board has funded the MOE and provided additional funding to the schools. They just have not handed over the monies to the wasteful school system that takes from the students instead of looking for better ways of managing its money. Under Blaine Young, the county commissioners has provided $3 million for technology, $3 million for system repairs and forward funding the construction of new schools, such as North Frederick Elementary, the Oakdale expansion, an addition to Urbana Middle School, and moved up Frederick High two years.


These are feats accomplished by the current board, none of which were even thought of by the FCTA endorsed Jan Gardner and David Gray when they were in charge of the Board of County Commissioners. Yes, the Gardner Board was the one that asked for relief for MOE, yet somehow they are not the ones vilified by the teachers’ union.


The current board cares about the children and proper funding, not just making the union happy.


In order for the union to receive funds, the Board of Education makes an agreement with them, not the county commissioners. Yet, this has been the mantra during budget sessions for years.


Other issue described on Mr. Donald’s website tells that of a priority for transportation and talks about the Waste to Energy plant, but offers no solutions. With transportation, he talks about the safety of people getting their mail and the need for roadside shoulders. Yes, growing up in the county has taught me a few things; one is listening for cars when living on a hill. We can't pay for people being negligent anymore, or just not using common sense. This would be a huge waste of money.


The other teacher/candidate running for county council is Jessica Fitzwater, in District 4. Of course, she also received the union endorsement, as she sits on t-its Board of Directors and its Legislative Committee for the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), which will be funding candidates with union endorsements.


She has some exciting offerings to the public, although her allegiance to schools surrounds most of her issues, on her page.


Her four issues are: "Bringing back a Culture of Respect and Open Government" where she speaks of transparency. Funny that! Isn't it the teachers union that did not want the taxpayers to know how their negotiations are handled, with tax paid funds?


Are she and Mr. Donald going to have inside knowledge not privy to the rest of the county council when voting for school funding?


Ms. Fitzwater says she is "Standing Strong for Our Schools," which takes a swipe at the removal of funding for the still existing Head Start program and offers that the first five years of this new form of government is crucial even though reports on this very topic disclose that the successes from Head Start are minimal.


She also supports "Advocating for Responsible Growth," which takes into consideration what we have all had difficulty grasping and sounds affirmative of a stronger Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO).


...and "Maintaining and Improving our Quality of Life," which puts providing services and amenities, including parks and libraries with tax dollars at a premium. Yes, it seems most of her topics surround around the schools and education. Also, she brings in recycling our way out of trash issues.


Good grief, reading the issues and what is and what is not an issue sounds like it was written for teachers and by teachers on Ms. Fitzwater’s and Mr. Donald’s websites. Where have they been the last four years and why are they even entering the race?


After viewing numerous budget meetings, the teachers always proclaim their inability for a life outside of teaching due to the hours worked. How on earth can they be available to represent the people properly?


I am sure both of these teachers have great things to offer our school system, but it remains to be seen what they have to offer the taxpayers except for higher taxes to fund education.


Retraining my brain for the future... conferring with the past.


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