02 April 2012

In which I nefariously "influence elections"

In addition to primary voting tomorrow, citizens of my county also get to vote for school board members. (More on that later). I mention this by way of providing context for the following email which Mrs SB7, who teaches in our county school system, got last weekend.
MCEA Statement on the Washington Post

MCEA is deeply offended by the allegations made today in an unsigned editorial in the Washington Post. Like clockwork, the Post has once again attacked the Montgomery County teachers union days before a school board election in a last ditch effort to influence voters. The Post’s anti-union animus is longstanding and widely recognized. [...]
The actual accusations made by the Post seem like small beer to me. The school employee unions run our county politics (As Arnold Kling and others can tell you.) I think all you need to know is that "donations" — i.e. patronage — flows from candidates to the unions, rather than vice-versa like most places.

That's old news though. What struck me about the opening to this letter was the lengths they went to make a newspaper publishing an editorial seem sinister. OH NOES!!! They're attempting to "influence voters"! How dare they undermine democracy like that!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(And if they think the editorial board of the Washington Post of all places has an "anti-union animus" they are in serious need of re-calibration. They're welcome to swing by Villa d'SB7 any day to see what real anti-trade-unionism looks like.)

Treating an attempt to "influence voters" is especially amusing since the MCEA proudly publishes lists of their preferred candidates. I'm actually really glad they do, because it makes my job of determining who to vote for easier: I know anyone with their endorsement can be crossed off my list immediately.

I actually used candidates responses to the MCEA questionnaire*
Which they publish, presumably in a dastardly attempt to "influence voters."
to choose who will get my vote. I chose the two candidates who were most willing to tell the MCEA what they did not want to hear. Things like suggesting that maybe blind adherence to first-in-first-out may not be a wise way to retain good teachers, or mentioning that the quality of a student's education will not strictly increase as class size is decreased for all values of class size.

Having done this research, I am now happy to recommend the following candidates for Montgomery County Board of Education.

For the at-large seat, I endorse Aryeh Shudofsky. Shudofsky has a background in finance, supports more practical & vocational skills courses, expressed a willingness to renegotiate unions contracts to reflect fiscal reality, and had the stones to suggest that charter schools and vouchers are worth looking into for Montgomery County.

I'm not crazy about any of the 2nd District candidates. If I had to pick one though, it would be Saqib Ali. That's mostly on the basis of him having a masters in CS and having some intelligent things to say about refocusing the curriculum on technology. Any actual technology education would be welcome. My county spends millions on "technology in the classroom" but that always means whizbang gewgaws and not actually teaching students how to use and create technology itself. OTOH Mr Ali, like the rest of the candidates, did seem eager to answer every question he could with "spend more money on everything!" Honestly though, he's not one of the two people recommended by the MCEA/NEA and that wins him a lot in my book.


  1. Unfortunately everyone else will be basing their vote on quantity of yard signs, so no doubt your candidates will lose.

  2. Oh no doubt they'll lose. I literally can not remember the last time a candidate won who didn't have the MCEA seal of approval.