If one bad apple spoils the bushel, what happens when the whole bushel is rotten?
In a sleepy little suburb outside of Portland, Oregon, there is a monster lurking in the classroom, teaching schoolchildren their three Rs—Reading, Radicalism & Reprisal. The monster is known as the McMinnville Education Association [MEA].
McMinnville School District is in negotiations with the MEA (hereafter to be known as MEAn) and has been since last year (with the occasional help of a mediator), with the parties being millions apart. However, according to local press reports, with a state school budget crisis, while some progress has been made, so far an agreement has been elusive.
Nevertheless, as negotiations have dragged on over months, the MEAn has gotten...well...MEAner.
On Valentine's Day, prior to the McMinnville School Board meeting, the McMinnville Area of Commerce's Governmental Affairs Committee had sent out a statement (via e-mail) to hundreds of local businesses and residents. That evening, at the school board meeting, Leslie "LV" VanBlaricom (a member of the chamber's board of directors) read the statement (text below the fold). Apparently, her reading of the letter did not sit well with MEAn, who then allegedly had her fired from her job:
Leslie "LV" VanBlaricom, who delivered a business community statement on this year's teacher contract talks at a recent McMinnville School Board meeting, has lost her job as manager of OnPoint Community Credit Union's McMinnville branch.
At the board's Feb. 14 meeting, VanBlaricom read an e-mail the McMinnville Area of Commerce's Governmental Affairs Committee had sent to hundreds of McMinnville businesses and residents earlier in the day. It urged both the district and union to quickly reach an agreement retaining as many teaching jobs as possible within the tight funding limits posed by the current economic shortfall.
VanBlaricom, who delivered the statement in her capacity as a member of the chamber's board of directors, told the school board the chamber had quickly received numerous replies to the e-mail from businesses supporting the committee's stand. She said it had not received any expressions of opposition.
In response to the chamber intervention, some individual members of the union contacted VanBlaricom's employer. A delegation of them asked to meet with VanBlaricom at the credit union late last week, but was told VanBlaricom no longer worked there, according to the union's Facebook page.
Here is the text of the statement that Ms. VanBlaricom read to the school board:
The Government Affairs Council of your Chamber of Commerce has identified an issue that we feel has potential lasting impact on our community and would like to share both a perspective and invite your feedback.
Currently, the McMinnville School District and the local teachers union are involved in month 11 of collective bargaining over a new teacher contract. State revenue declines have led to smaller projected allocations to K-12 schools. For current budget news, please see the News Register Article at the following link: http://www.newsregister.com/article/46806-school+budget+gaps+grows+more+6+million
The bottom line: both the district and the union are negotiating over money our district does not have and does not expect to receive. We feel the business community should provide a message of support for settlement of the negotiations (which are now in mediation) that maximizes the number of teachers the district can retain to keep class sizes smaller for our children.
The district should not spend any additional money towards teacher salary and/or benefits if doing so will require the district to reduce teaching positions and increase classroom sizes to pay for them in order to meet its budget. We should hope the union would see the benefit of smaller class sizes on their members workload and student performance but to date, they have continued to insist on additional wage and benefit increases even though the district indicates that such demands could mean the loss of as many as 40+ teaching positions.
We know many business people, concerned citizens and parents in our community feel, as we do, that they support teachers and appreciate what they do. We do not want to be perceived as opposing teachers and/or education but want to stand up to the unreasonable demands of the teacher’s union given the current state, local and national economic conditions.
We believe this has long-term community and business consequences. The Chamber and many of its member businesses have supported local education, including the $68 million bond measure that updated and expanded many of our educational facilities. Although we opposed Measures 66 and 67 last year, they passed and have not live up to the challenge of fixing the funding crisis. Our fear is that failure to hold the line on expenses will result in new calls for business taxes at a time when both the business community and the local economy cannot afford it. We urge that your voice be heard on this issue and we intend to share it.
Please let us know how you feel about this issue.
Pretty provocative, right? Well, the MEAn apparently didn't bother wasting time, according to the above press report. The union and its sycophantic followers contacted Ms. VanBlaricom's employer, OnPoint Community Credit Union (which has a longstanding relationship with the teachers' union), where she was a branch manager, and she was fired.
Following Ms. VanBlaricom's removal from her job, the members of MEAn applauded the brutish behavior on the union's facebook page.
Imagine, teachers responsible for teaching kids not to be bullies behaving like schoolyard bullies themselves. In this case, though, it has cost a woman her livelihood.
Bullies or monsters? Apparently, there's not much difference in McMinnville.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776