School Candidates: Improper Grilling?Reviewing the basis...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 21, 1994

School Candidates: Improper Grilling?

Reviewing the basis for endorsement of political candidates by the school unions provides a chilling example of why our educational system is in trouble. Are you a member of the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition or Church of the Open Door? These are some of the questions candidates were asked.

Obviously, the leaders of the school unions are a "vocal minority" and not representative of the Carroll County teachers and school employees. The union mentality has reduced what used to be a dedicated and deservedly respected profession to a mere grunt, sweat-shop labor pool no different from the United Mine Workers and the United Auto Workers.

Unfortunately for the taxpaying public which foots the bill for this excessively expensive failure and the children who become the victims of educational fads, the school unions have done to education what the UAW and UMW did to their industries -- negotiated themselves into costly obsolescence. . . . Rather than elevating the profession, the unions have a demeaning effect.

The major criterion for union endorsement is the self-serving greed of the unions, i.e., how much more money can they squeeze from the public and what candidates will give it to them? Since the unions get a cut in the form of dues, they can feather their own nests at public expense. Carroll County Commissioner Donald Dell's special interest policies fit in well with the special money interests of the school unions and earns their endorsement. With these motives, an endorsement by the school unions could be more of a kiss of death for a candidate than a "blessing."

William M. Bowen

Westminster

As part of the endorsement process, I was invited to appear before the Carroll County Education Association's government relations committee for an interview. While not selected for their endorsement, I was treated with respect and certainly both support their right to choose who they feel best represents their concerns and welcome their involvement in the election process. I certainly have a high regard for our educators.

However, one part of the interview process was disturbing, especially since the Carroll County Education Association represents teachers who spend a great amount of time with our children and can influence their minds. I was told that due to past concerns three new questions were being asked of all candidates: What is their party affiliation? Are they members of the Pat Robertson group? Are they members of the Jimmy

Swaggart group?

First, the school board election is non-partisan. Secondly, I was not asked as to membership in the Klan, Communist Party or if I was a Satan worshiper. Matter of fact, the three questions would be illegal questions to ask a prospective teacher.

My concern is that suddenly being a Christian, who is thought to be far right, is seen as "more dangerous" than a person who may be far left or even a criminal. While I am a Republican, belong to a major religion, am not far right or left (but appreciate the passion that steers people to the extreme), I am a Christian. I do resent the fact that religion, not educational beliefs, is being interjected into the process by an organization that represents educators who are training the minds of our youth.

For the record, I believe values, morals and religious education belongs to the family and church. It is not the responsibility of the federal government or the school system. When elected to the school board, I will strive to maintain this separation.

Michael R. Baker

Westminster

The writer is a candidate for the Carroll County Board of Education.

I read the Aug. 4 editorial in The Evening Sun entitled, "The proper grilling of candidates," regarding questions put to some local candidates for political office by representatives of the Carroll County Education Association. The CCEA inquired about the candidates' affiliation with certain right-wing groups and a local church, known for its political activity.

This brought to mind the meeting between Southern Baptist ministers and John F. Kennedy in Texas during Kennedy's presidential campaign where the ministers asked about Kennedy's ties to the Pope and the Vatican. They wanted to be assured that voting for him would not threaten their religious freedom, and they were so assured.

It is obvious that the CCEA is just as concerned, as those ministers were, about candidates for political office who are inimical to its interests, and it has identified certain affiliations as indicative of behavior once the individual is in office. According to local newspaper reports and letters, the CCEA did not question whether the candidate was a Christian or a conservative but whether the candidate was affiliated with certain organizations. There is a big difference here, but apparently some commentators failed to see it.

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