Teachers union president faces 3 rivals

May 16, 2006|By SARA NEUFELD | SARA NEUFELD,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English is facing three challengers as she asks teachers to elect her to another term.

The city's teachers and paraprofessionals are scheduled to vote tomorrow on union officers to represent them for the next two years.

English, who served as the teachers' president from 1998 to 2000 and was re-elected in 2002 and 2004, said she is running on her record. She said that includes securing an 8 percent raise for teachers over two years, at a time when the city school system had a deficit, and fending off teacher pay cuts and layoffs during the system's financial collapse two years ago.

Her opponents are T.S. Grant, a U.S. government teacher at New Era Academy; Kojo L. McCallum, a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Rognel Heights Elementary/Middle; and James Earl Loving Jr., a teacher at Harbor City East, an alternative school.

While English is running on a slate with candidates for all 22 union positions, Grant is campaigning with candidates for 10 other positions. His team includes Jay Gillen, the faculty adviser of the Algebra Project, a student-run tutoring group that lobbies for increased school funding and against school closings; and Charles Dugger, a teacher at Benjamin Franklin Junior High School. Dugger says he has faced retribution since he spoke out last fall against the controversial Studio Course language arts curriculum.

Grant's Web site calls the union "scattered and ineffective" and says it "resembles more of a social club than a professional teachers union."

If elected, he said, he wants to focus on disciplinary problems in schools, and teachers' lack of recourse when students misbehave.

Grant criticized the union's current leadership, saying it has failed to take a stand on key issues such as school closings and failed to hold politicians accountable.

English said in response that neither Grant nor any of the other candidates running with him has been active in the union. "Not one of them has served on any committee," she said. "To say what we have done and haven't done is really unfair because they haven't been a part of it. It's not even accurate. We have spoken out."

She said the union has opposed school closings.

McCallum, who ran for union president in 2004, also said the union's leadership lacked unity and vision. He said if he were president, he would visit all 184 city schools every year, and he would fight for schools to have adequate supplies so teachers wouldn't need to buy their own.

Loving could not be reached for comment yesterday.

English said the union, under her leadership, contributed to the lobbying efforts to pass legislation to improve teachers' pensions and halt outside takeovers of 11 city schools. She also said the union has strengthened its partnerships with area universities, which offer classes for teachers.

The president of the union's paraprofessional chapter, Lorretta Johnson, is running unopposed for re-election.

sara.neufeld@baltsun.com

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