Dandridge challenged by 2 for union presidency teachers vote tomorrow

May 18, 1994|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Sun Staff Writer

Irene Dandridge, the Baltimore Teachers Union president for the past 15 years, will face two challengers when teachers elect their next union leader tomorrow.

Ms. Dandridge, who said she has been challenged only twice before, squares off against Donna A. Money, 43, a teacher at Madison Square Elementary, and Deborah Sharpe, 29, a special education teacher at Harford Heights Elementary.

Both challengers charge that leaders of the 8,500-member union have failed to organize teachers and parents into a lobbying unit to fight school privatization, to reduce class sizes and to demand higher salaries, among other things.

Ms. Dandridge, 58, defended the union's record, noting its recent high-profile fight against school privatization and its push for smaller classes and tougher discipline policies to reduce violence in schools.

She said neither challenger has attended union meetings regularly or joined union protests at school board or government hearings.

"Have they been involved all along? No," she said.

Ms. Sharpe, who has taught for four years, heads an eight-candidate slate called Teachers for a New Direction. Ms. Money, who has taught for 15 years, has no running mates.

Ms. Sharpe's slate says it would reduce the union president's salary by at least 25 percent. Ms. Dandridge said she makes $77,000 a year.

The slate also calls for demanding contract language prohibiting verbal and physical abuse of teachers by students, a major lobbying effort for salaries comparable to those of teachers in surrounding counties and evaluation of principals and administrators by teachers.

If elected, Ms. Sharpe said, she would strive to stage protests and pack school board and City Council meetings with hundreds of teachers and parents, a move that she said would bolster the union's reputation among teachers, school administrators, the school board and lawmakers.

"We will change the image of the union as being weak," she said. "People will recognize the strength that is there."

Marcia Brown, a teacher at Forest Park High, is running for vice president on the slate. Other members, all teachers, are: William Stevenson of Roland Park Elementary-Middle School, treasurer; Peter French of Harford Heights Elementary, elementary vice president; J. Richard Perkins of Winston Middle School, middle school vice president; Thomas Andrione of Harbor City Learning Center, senior high vice president; Robert Jacobson of Venable High School, special services vice president; and Arthur Laupus of Harbor City Learning Center, at-large representative.

Ms. Money, president of the Lakewood-Chase Community Association, said the union has ignored teachers' complaints about contract violations, including forced transfers. She promised a more aggressive fight against school privatization, more efforts to involve parents and communities, and a battle for higher salaries.

"Our union has not mobilized our teachers for a long time," she said. "Most teachers are disgusted with the union. . . . We don't see any results for the union dues we pay. The union needs to build up its own image with teachers so they can be united."

Tomorrow's victor will take office Friday for a two-year term.

WHERE TO VOTE

Teachers may cast ballots in the Baltimore Teachers Union election from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow at the BTU office, 5800 Metro Drive, off Northern Parkway.

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