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Teachers Rally to Protest Evaluation Changes

Members of the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU), national education advocates, and union leaders rallied at the administrative offices of the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) Monday, June 16th, to protest arbitrary changes made by school administrators to the teacher evaluation process. As a result of the school administration’s changes, teachers received lower evaluation scores and performance ratings. Teacher performance ratings are tied to teacher pay.

At the rally, BTU President Marietta English told the teachers and supporters that BTU will fight attempts by the school administration to change the evaluation process.

Dr. Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, also addressed the rally participants. She told those assembled that attempts to erode the rights of teachers are not limited to the city of Baltimore.

“Baltimore is not unique,” Dr. Johnson said. “This is happening all over the country.” Dr. Johnson referenced the recent court decision in California that declared tenure for teachers unconstitutional. “I once went to jail, striking for the rights of teachers, Dr. Johnson said. “We may need a national strike to make sure that teachers, like those in Baltimore, get a fair evaluation process.”

Fred Mason, Jr., President of the Maryland/District of Columbia AFL-CIO, expressed his unions' support of the city’s teachers. “All across the country, bosses are attacking workers,” Mason said. “When we are attacked, we have a right to stand up and resist.”

President of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council—AFL-CIO Unions, Ernie Grecco, acknowledged the importance of teachers to the city’s children.

“On behalf of 189 local unions, I thank you for the work you do,” Grecco said. “The trade unions are behind you.”

Glenard Middleton, Executive Director of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Maryland Council 67, encouraged the teachers to fight for their rights and promised his organization’s support of their efforts.

Several teachers and BTU members voiced their opposition to the school administration’s attempt to change evaluation procedures.

Nick McDaniels, a teacher at Mergenthaler Vocational and Technical High School, said that he had participated in discussions with school administrators on the evaluation process.

“None of the things we discussed is reflected in the school system’s decision on evaluations,” he said.

Campbell McLean, a teacher at AFYA Public Charter School, said, “When you change scores in the middle of the process, it promotes mistrust.”  He stressed the need for agreements between teachers and administrators to be open and honest.

Lurita Johnson, a Model Teacher and a Lead Teacher at Hilton elementary School, said that teachers teach children about fairness, and that fairness also should be the practice of school administrators.

Adrina Womack, a 39-year veteran teacher, noted that teachers work not for money, but for children. “If you’re not in the classroom, you can’t evaluate what we do,” she said.

Other teachers, including Tom Smith of Patterson High School, Carla McCoy of Emerson Westside Career and Technical Education High School, and Matthew Barrow of Glenmont Elementary/Middle School confirmed and agreed with the comments of other teachers.

BTU has filed a class action grievance against the Baltimore City Public School System.  President English said that teachers will return to the school administrative offices to voice their opposition to the changes in the evaluation process.

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