Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lenett Weighs in on the Post's War vs. MCEA

Senator Mike Lenett (D-19) sent the following email to his constituents regarding the Washington Post’s war on MCEA Monday.

Dear Friends:

Over the past four years, the partnership between the Maryland General Assembly and Maryland’s public school teachers has brought about tremendous progress for students around the state. Nowhere is that progress more measurable than right here in Montgomery County.

As a member of the Maryland Senate, I am a strong supporter of public education. I have fought for Montgomery County's fair share of education funding and school construction projects to ensure that our students are learning in modern and safe classrooms. Moreover, in a year when the legislature must make severe cuts from the state budget, I am committed to protecting state funds that support our public schools in Montgomery County.

I advocate strongly for public education because I believe it is the bedrock of our society as a whole and each child's potential as an individual. The high priority we accord to our education system yields results. The record speaks for itself. Maryland’s public schools have been ranked best in the nation for two consecutive years by Education Week magazine and Montgomery County’s schools are the best in the state. Our high school students rank best in the country on AP test scores. Test scores are rising, and dropout rates are falling.

We owe much of this success to the hard work and dedication of our public school teachers. That’s why I was particularly disappointed when I read the Washington Post’s repeated attacks on the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) this month. The Post’s editorials are flat out unfair to the men and women who have committed themselves to educating our children.

In particular, the Post takes issue with MCEA’s involvement in State and local politics. The editorials conjure up images of abusive union leaders pressuring candidates into making financial contributions to secure the union's endorsement. Nothing could be further from the truth. After MCEA endorses a candidate, the organization and the candidate work cooperatively to inform the public of the endorsement. Some candidates make contributions to MCEA to defray the cost of endorsement mailings. Others don’t. It’s as simple and harmless as that.

In my experience, when MCEA helps a candidate win, its members are committed to holding that person accountable as an elected official. Teachers’ efforts have kept public education at the top of our agenda, and their persistence has helped us get our fair share from Annapolis and secure the tools our students need to succeed. Working together, we have made public education a top priority in the State budget, and our schools are making real progress.

So I think it is fair to ask why the Post is making these attacks and where it is getting the inaccurate information upon which they are based? The unfair and misleading views expressed by the Post in this instance risk weakening our ability to maintain a top-notch education for our children.