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The Tentacle


May 1, 2012

Tyrant Gary Brennan!

Roy Meachum

The name of the Shenandoah Valley town long vanished into the recesses of my aging brain. The place’s disremembered hotel comes to mind because of the local situation that plagues Frederick County Public Schools, namely the local union’s call for “working to contract.” This has provoked stories in the media.

 

Radio and television continue to interview unhappy students on their daily newscasts, together with Gary Brennan. The president of the teachers’ association urges its members to hold out, promising the government will grant the raises he demanded. Sufficient funding always came forth in the past. This time might be different.

 

The worst recession in modern U.S. history slowed down but shows little inclination of vanishing altogether. Meanwhile, federal and state agencies have produced no relief from the unfair taxes wrought by George W. Bush. The top one percent continues to prosper; most citizens do not. In drawing up budgets, officials must practice caution. Great Britain this week entered a second recession, devastating the English pound.

 

Giving Frederick County teachers a raise of this sort precludes flexibility. Salaries, pensions and health care must be paid with no further consideration, good times or not. Given a second recession, in the British mode, the county would be forced to file for bankruptcy. That is why many people – and I – who generally favor contented teachers ask the Board of Education not to grant the higher wages.

 

In the middle of the incendiary educational mess, I accuse The Frederick News-Post of publishing a Letter to the Editor that is like throwing gasoline on a burning house.

 

On Sunday’s Op/Ed page, there appeared “What teachers do in a day,” followed by an exhausting list. The items seemed ordinary for a person whose vocation is classroom work. By no means, did Randy Changuris and Christina Weiner claim they must tick off all the chores every working day. News-Post Editorial Page Editor Clifford Cumber met the ethical requirement by including their residential locations. Germantown and Brownsville, Maryland, are outside Frederick County. Many current teachers commute. They don’t contribute one penny to local governments in taxes. Commuting is strictly by choice. They drive in daily because of the wages, and that’s what attracts them from their home precincts. Paying nothing to Winchester Hall, they’re in local classrooms strictly for money.

 

A former social studies instructor at Thomas Johnson High School, Frederick County Teachers Association President Gary Brennan views his position through ultra-liberal lens. In European mid-19th century politics, he would have been the first to cry “to the barricades.” His attitude toward the Board of Education and the Frederick Board of County Commissioners can be summed up as radical. Meanwhile the county’s children suffer. There are instances when teachers’ absences for tutoring classes on advanced subjects have caused boys and girls to throw up their hands, postponing the tests that are critical. Holding young Frederick County residents as hostages does not strike me as fair.

 

Back to the Shenandoah Valley town years ago, I shared the hotel’s porch with maybe every unmarried teacher in the Virginia county. Although there were few Roman Catholics natives, the school system maintained the tradition when every classroom employee was regarded as nuns. They could be fired for any infringement on the public morals, slight or not. How different from Frederick!

 

Black-mail I crusaded against when the offender was the junior senator from Wisconsin in the early 1950s. I see that happening again from teachers’ union head Gary Brennan. This country was born from the struggle with tyranny.

 

And the modern tyrant, I can’t abide.

 



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