Teachers, MCPS at Odds Before Negotiations Even Begin

Members of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) went public Thursday afternoon with their concerns that negotiations for a new contract have hit a stumbling block before they even begin.

According to both Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Monifa McKnight and MCEA members, the two sides have yet to agree upon ground rules for the negotiations.

MCEA member Latechia Mithell, a staff development teacher, explained that the union rejects MCPS’ requests to limit the amount of open bargaining sessions and record names of participants at those sessions. Making public the names “seems like you would be setting up our members for retaliation,” she said.

In a letter to school staff that was sent out shortly before the press conference began, McKnight wrote of “a serious concern” she had.

In the email, she detailed, “However, an unwillingness on the part of teacher association leaders to agree on basic ground rules is preventing us from moving forward. We have shared our interest in honest and transparent negotiations and offered multiple opportunities for public, open engagement. Negotiators have turned down this offer as not enough.”

Many of the teachers at the news conference held at MCPS headquarters on Hungerford Road in Rockville said they felt disrespected and overworked and were tired of seeing so many of their colleagues leave. Morale among teachers is low, they said.

“We are united in our desire to see all children succeed,” but “a deep lack of respect” and need to cover other classes and take on additional responsibilities due to a teacher shortage has hurt the district, Mitchell said.

Several legislators attended the event to show their support for the MCEA and its 14,000 members, including Delegates Lorig Charkoudian, David Moon and Gabriel Acevero; state Senators Susan Lee and Ben Kramer; School Board candidates Valerie Coll and Julie Yang; Council candidate Kristin Mink and Delegate Candidate Joe Vogel.

“We are here, because to secure the better future we want, we have to invest in our students” and “trust educators who are in the classroom every day,” Vogel said.

“Bring teachers to the table, maybe they have the solution, maybe they have some ideas. They do. I know they do,” said Mink, a former MCPS graduate, teacher and parent.


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