Let Maryland’s Teachers Vote

During the Democratic Primary, Ben Jealous was endorsed by both the Maryland State Education Association and the Baltimore Teachers Union. Jealous made this central to his primary campaign for Governor, though the way he structured it was dubious at best and misleading at worse.

Jealous has claimed repeatedly that he has been “endorsed by teachers” based off of the endorsements of the two unions above.

The problem is that Jealous has not been endorsed by teachers. He’s only been endorsed by the Teacher’s Unions and their leadership.

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Allow me to explain.

The Maryland State Education Association has roughly 73,000 members across the State of Maryland. From that membership is elected various officer positions, various director position, and union members who are elected to represent the union at the statewide level. Ultimately, there are 300 union members who are elected delegates to represent the body as a whole who make the decisions on things like endorsements. That’s how Jealous received the MSEA endorsement; he received the support of 85-percent of the 300 delegates who were elected to make the decision.

That means that Jealous is not endorsed by teachers; he was endorsed by 255 teachers. Jealous received the formal endorsement of 0.41% of the MSEA’s total membership.

As for the rest of the teachers? Nobody asked them.

While this may sound like a nuanced argument, it’s important to recognize the difference between teachers and union leadership. Teachers are made up of Marylanders with different experiences, different ethnicities, and different backgrounds. They may have varying political opinions. We know that isn’t the case for the statewide leadership of the MSEA, who openly discriminate against members who aren’t left-wing zealots, while at the same time making sure that their six-figure salaries are protected.

MSEA leadership wants to make sure that they are “the biggest player on the progressive side of Maryland politics” but nobody bothered to ask the union members if that’s what they wanted. And nobody thought to ask the rank-and-file members of the union if they wanted to support Ben Jealous for Governor.

This is not a minor bone of contention, either. We have heard from scores of teachers of all political stripes who are unhappy that their union went all-in on a candidate so far outside of the mainstream and one whose policies would do irreparable damage to middle-class Marylanders like our public school teachers.

If Ben Jealous really wants to claim that he is “endorsed by Maryland teachers”, we challenge him to join us in urging the Maryland State Education Association to allow a free, open, and transparent vote of all MSEA members on who they want to support for Governor in 2018. If Ben Jealous is the champion of democracy and the champion of worker’s rights that he claims to be, then he should have no problem in urging the MSEA leadership to allow teachers to decide which candidate they truly endorse.

Please sign our petition to the Maryland State Education Association urging them to allow a free an open vote on which candidate the MSEA should support for Governor.

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