May 20, 2024


International Student Club UK

A Q&A with Baltimore Teachers Union President, Diamonté Brown


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Not long ago unions have been a topic of discussion subsequent the successful unionizing of Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in New York and Starbucks shops nationwide. In the education industry—where not outlawed— unions can be found in most locations across the region. For several educators, unions are the collective bargaining unit that negotiates their contracts, resolves their grievances, and supplies help and lawful illustration. But if you Google everything about lecturers unions, you will locate equally mind-boggling guidance for them and rigid opposition. 

This month, I had the possibility to do a Q&A with Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) President, Diamonté Brown. In this e-mail exchange, we explore what influenced Brown’s do the job with the BTU, how unions are normally mischaracterized, and how school districts can appreciate teachers. 

The Educator’s Room: What encouraged you to start out your perform with the Union?

Diamonté Brown: There were being various aspects that impressed me to begin my get the job done with the union. The first Black labor celebration in Maryland (at the time we get ballot standing), Ujima People’s Progress Bash (UPP), which I am a member of, taught me about how unions can be utilised as a potent tool in arranging, the energy of the performing class, and how unions can be a power in making certain comprehensive employment for all these willing and able to perform at a livable wage and humane and risk-free doing work problems. 

When discovering about unions and labor get-togethers, I was arranging around legal justice reform and marketing campaign finance reform challenges. As I was organizing around these troubles, I achieved a member of the Baltimore Motion of Rank and File Educators (BMORE), a social justice caucus of the Baltimore Lecturers Union. 1 of the BMORE co-founders asked if I would be part of BMORE and be on the steering committee. 

I recognized and in 2016 I entered the Baltimore City General public College Process (BCPSS) as a whole time trainer. I promptly joined the union and straight away recognized union rank and file users essential more final decision creating ability in our union. I grew to become a making consultant to come to be additional engaged and improved have an understanding of union functions. Whilst becoming a constructing representative, I regularly went to trainings on unions, labor, and arranging.

As a result of BMORE, I was released to the United Caucuses of Rank and File Educators (UCORE), a nationwide team of reform caucuses supported by Labor Notes. UCORE has a mission to rework unionism from generally concentrating on bread and butter troubles to concentrating on bread and butter difficulties and issues that effect our communities like homelessness, foods deserts, safety, racial fairness, etc. In get to arrive at this mission, UCORE sought out to have social just caucuses like BMORE inspire transformation in their unions and when the option arises to seek leadership positions.

UCORE tasked BMORE with operating for union management and we approved the obstacle. BMORE determined that I should really operate at the leading of the ticket and I accepted the demand. My operating mates and I all arranged to turnout additional union customers than our opposition and we won 19/41 seats (such as the presidency) on our 2019 union board.

“I would argue that [teachers unions] have the similar requires as parents, which is that our college students should have the colleges they are worthy of.” A Q&A with Baltimore Lecturers Union President, Diamonté Brown Simply click To Tweet

Diamonté Brown, Baltimore Teachers Union President/ Courtesy of Diamonté Brown

TER: Is there a venture or initiative you served launch with the Baltimore Instructors Union that you happen to be particularly very pleased of?

Diamonté Brown: Sure. I was a significant aspect of launching a marketing campaign (still ongoing) to reform the faculty board of the Baltimore Metropolis Community Faculties Process (BCPSS). The campaign so considerably has included properly developing the Voices In direction of an Elected School board (VOTES) coalition, a coalition of organizations and persons doing work on reforms this sort of as, rising the amount of university student users on the board, giving the scholar board member equivalent voting legal rights as grownup board members, and restructuring our faculty board from a completely appointed college board to a hybrid appointed/elected faculty board, with the greater part of the users staying elected.

The VOTES coalition effectively championed finding Maryland point out laws, Senate Invoice 157, passed. This invoice will improve the college student board member’s voting rights, between other items. We have a great deal much more function to do and our recent emphasis is reforming the collection procedure for appointed associates of the board as we continue on our operate to reform the composition of the university board. 

TER: What is a thing that persons misunderstand about lecturers unions and the operate they do? Why are teachers’ unions critical?

Diamonté Brown: Oddly, lecturers unions are at times mischaracterized as acquiring competing requires with mom and dad of learners. I would argue that we have the same needs as mother and father, which is that our college students must have the colleges they are entitled to. In purchase to get our little ones the colleges they are worthy of, academics unions keep on being critical in advocating and arranging with mothers and fathers, students, and community associates to get the resources, funding, staffing, society, and electricity required to boost doing work conditions, college student discovering circumstances, and our communities. 

TER: What are some strategies school districts can demonstrate they enjoy lecturers? 

Diamonté Brown:

  • Pay back us what we deserve 
  • Give us more time in the university working day to system for instruction and mirror on instruction 
  • Set as substantially strength into supporting personnel development as they do placing in accountability measures
  • Give us back again the autonomy we need to have to correctly educate our students 
  • Handle us like industry experts
  • End making us out to be villains when we stand up for ourselves and our pupils
  • Retention and Indication On bonuses
  • Allow us consume lunch uninterrupted 
  • Recall we are people today too

TER: Is there anything else you would like educators to know?

Diamonté Brown: You are all awesome! You don’t need to have authorization to put you very first! You have earned to be happy!

A great deal gratitude and appreciation to Diamonté Brown for collaborating in this Q&A. To find out about the function that Diamonté Brown and the Baltimore Teachers Union are accomplishing click right here. 

This interview is a element of Educators Unsilenced, a regular monthly job interview sequence on The Educator’s Home by Lanee Higgins. Each month Lanee interviews educators generating their influence on education and learning. See final month’s job interview listed here.

*Responses may possibly have been edited for clarity and/or size. 

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