Voter engagement and the BTU election
The Baltimore Teachers Union typically only sees about 10 percent of its 8,000 members vote in its leadership elections, the next of which is to take place on Wednesday. Judging from a random sampling of teachers I talked to in the past few weeks, it doesn't sound like people are much more engaged this time around.
It's too bad, because there are some pretty interesting elements to the four-way race for president of the union's teacher chapter:
1) The revived rivalry between Marietta English and Sharon Blake, who seems ready to go to court (again) if the union doesn't keep a paper trail of ballots cast. She has a high-profile lawyer representing her: former city solicitor Neal Janey Sr.
2) The debate over the leadership of Dr. Alonso, who is praised by all the candidates but English.
3) The inclusion on both the English and Blake slates of Filipino teachers, whose arrival in 2005 was not welcomed by the union.
4) The candidacy of Bill Krehnbrink, a former Republican candidate for both chambers of Congress, who used to run a business repairing tractors and other machinery before he became a teacher.
5) The allegations by another candidate, Joseph Gwin (that's "win" with a "g" in front, he tells me), that schools are allowing the distribution of English and Blake fliers in teachers' mailboxes, but not his.
Think you know what the outcome will be? Gwin begs to differ. "Everybody thinks I’m gonna lose because I’m not part of a slate," he told me. "But I have a theory. David defeated Goliath because God wanted him to. If God wants me to be preseident of this union, I’m gonna be president of this union. If not, guess what? I love teaching math."