Fair Share will make school systems better

April 23, 2013

It's unfortunate that reality and Trey Kovacs' recent commentary ("Unions business on taxpayers' dime," April 19) seem to bear little relation to one another. As the president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, I can say that he's way off on the two topics he attempts to tackle in his recent article: Fair Share and union release time.

The Fair Share legislation will create an environment of fairness and equity among all of our educators, who all contribute to the negotiated benefits and legally required representation that they all enjoy. By state mandate, the union must represent all members of the bargaining unit in negotiations and contractual issues. In addition, our members pay the bill for their own representation and that of the non-members. Those non-members, as fee-payers, have only to pay the cost of their representation, not the full cost of membership. Therefore, Fair Share will protect educators' rights to choose whether to join the union. It's been non-controversial, and I'm sure it will be successful. The statewide Fair Share bill that recently passed the General Assembly is an important step in extending this fairness to educators throughout the state.

In Baltimore County, we have a release-time president. I currently serve in that role, and our association pays my entire salary. I'm proud to be a full-time advocate for Baltimore County's schools, and I'm proud of the work we've done with parents, policymakers, and legislators to build great public schools for our kids. When association members serve on state committees, advocate for our schools in Congress, or engage in other activities that require release time, the union fully reimburses the school system the cost of a substitute. We take our responsibility to fully staff, support, and advocate for our schools seriously. Unfortunately, Mr. Kovacs' error-filled commentary suggests that he feels no similar responsibility to the public to discuss these issues with accuracy, fidelity or thoughtful insight.

Abby Beytin, Towson

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