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  • Gov. Hogan Threatens to Veto the Protect Our Schools Act

    And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the Street

    WJLA and numerous other stations covered the protests surrounding Gov. Hogan and Secretary DeVos’ visit to a Montgomery County school on Thursday.

    URGENT ACTION NEEDED

    The Protect Our Schools Act is up for an important vote in the Senate. Please send your senator an email or give them a call at 1–888–520–6732 asking them to support the bill. Thank you!

    THE WEEK THAT WAS IN ANNAPOLIS

    Gov. Hogan Threatens to Veto the Protect Our Schools Act

    The Protect Our Schools Act (HB978/SB871) continues to move towards passage, with the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee voting to move the bill to the full Senate floor earlier this week. The full Senate has now started to debate the bill with a final vote likely coming early next week. The legislation would balance testing and opportunity to learn indicators in our state’s school accountability system, give educators a voice in how their schools are improved, and prevent the privatization of low-performing schools. In an interview this week, MSEA President Betty Weller explained that it’s time for a change when it comes to how we measure and improve schools: “We’ve lived in a test-and-punish culture and it hasn’t closed the gaps in achievement. We know kids are not going to test their way out of poverty.”

    Gov. Hogan’s expected veto threat finally arrived — as first reported by The Baltimore Sun — during a press conference today. In doing so, Gov. Hogan is not only breaking a campaign promise to reduce testing and return education decision-making back to local parents and educators, but he is continuing to pursue the very same privatization agenda as President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (more on her and Hogan teaming up in a bit). He opposes the bill because it prevents his State Board of Education from converting public schools into for-profit charter schools, closing public schools in favor of private school vouchers, or the hiring of a for-profit management company to take over public schools. Simply put, he opposes the bill because the General Assembly is trying to prevent his privatization agenda.

    It is likely that the governor will unleash the full force of his political operation to stop the bill’s passage. He and his staff are even accusing teachers of putting themselves before their students — a deeply insulting and personal attack on the hard work you and educators across Maryland do every day. We need all hands on deck to make sure members of the General Assembly know this legislation will help students get a better education. Every call made to a senator today could be the difference between winning and losing.

    Betsy DeVos Visits a Maryland School — With Hogan by Her Side

    It’s no coincidence that Gov. Hogan’s veto threat came as he teamed up with Secretary DeVos. The two joined together to visit a Montgomery County public school, reading to kids for a photo-op and then leaving quickly. Meanwhile, hundreds of parents in the local community protested their joint privatization agenda outside of the school, chanting “Public Schools Are a Public Good” in support of public education.

    It was a truly grassroots display of how frustrated Maryland voters are with Gov. Hogan’s willingness to help the Trump Administration and its harmful policies — especially when it comes to privatizing schools.

    Back in Annapolis, both Senate President Mike Miller (D-Calvert, Charles & Prince George’s-District 23) and House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel-District 30A) criticized the governor’s appearance with DeVos. Busch told the Legislative Black Caucus that if DeVos and Hogan get their way, “They’re going to break down the school system.” Miller told reporters at a news conference that Maryland would return to ranking first in the nation for education, “but not with help from Betsy DeVos.”

    NEWS AND NOTES

    Senate Passes Teacher Arbitration Bill

    Last week, we mentioned an important school working conditions bill (SB760) that would give teachers the right to request an arbitration hearing — instead of a hearing with an officer hand-picked by the local school board — in suspension or termination cases. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard-District 13), passed the Senate 32–15 and now moves to the House, that will hopefully begin work on the bill shortly. This would give teachers a much fairer discipline process — a right that ESP members already have.

    Educator Whistleblower Protections Pass House

    As directed by a New Business Item during the 2016 fall representative assembly, MSEA has been working with Del. Jimmy Tarlau (D-Prince George’s-District 47A) — a longtime labor champion — to pass legislation (HB1145) prohibiting school systems from punishing an educator for acting as a whistleblower. The bill specifies that educators are protected in reporting three areas of misconduct: (1) an abuse of authority, gross mismanagement, or gross waste of money; (2) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety; or (3) a violation of law. We are happy to report that the bill received a unanimous vote in the House of Delegates (139–0) and now moves to the Senate.

    Maryland Voters Name Public Education Top Issue

    In a brand new Washington Post poll, Maryland voters were asked “Which of the following issues do you want Maryland’s governor and state legislature to work hardest on: (the state budget), (the state economy), (public education), (transportation and infrastructure), (drug abuse), (taxes) or something else?” Way out in front was public education, which was named by 38% of voters. The next highest priority for voters was a three-way tie between taxes, the economy, and drug abuse — with 12% of voters selecting those options. With education so clearly the number one priority of voters, it’s no wonder that Gov. Hogan’s education approval rating is a full 15 points below his overall approval rating — which, by the way, went down by six points from the last Washington Post poll.

    CAMPAIGN 2018

    Hogan Re-Elect Numbers Begin to Crumble

    In an article titled, “Hogan’s deep popularity in Md. weakens when voters consider 2018,” the Washington Post details how despite a 65% approval rating, just 41% of Maryland voters say they plan to vote to re-elect Hogan and 37% say they plan to vote for the Democratic nominee. As the Post writes, “The margin has narrowed since September, when Hogan held a 46 to 30 percent edge over a generic Democrat.” Hogan’s lead has shrunk by 12 points in just a handful of months, perhaps due to his unwillingness to stand up to President Trump.

    Baltimore Lawyer Joins List of Potential Democratic Candidates

    Former Venable Chairman Jim Shea, a prominent Baltimore lawyer known for his support of Martin O’Malley’s successful bid for governor in 2006, is now considering a run for the state’s highest elected position himself. Shea was chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and is a long-time donor to Democratic candidates and causes. It’s possible that he could self-fund a significant part of his campaign, should he decide to run.

    Rebuilding Starts Now

    Unsure how to stand up to Donald Trump, Larry Hogan, Betsy DeVos, and the rest of the anti-public education officials in power? Start by donating as much as you can to the MSEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Gov. Hogan has more than $5 million in cash on hand, and that’s not counting any dark money groups he may have secretly formed. This is the only way we can raise our voices to compete with the corporate interests trying to privatize our public schools.


    Gov. Hogan Threatens to Veto the Protect Our Schools Act was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

  • Who Proposed This Education Budget: Trump or Hogan?

    Hint: It’s a trick question

    Credit: Executive Office of the Governor (left) and Creative Commons (right)

    It’s 2017, and a mystery chief executive just released a proposal for government spending in his fiscal year 2018 budget. He chose to cut funding for an after-school and summer program targeted at low-income public school students and a grant program aimed at reducing teacher turnover. Instead, his budget redirects that funding to private school vouchers.

    Who is it?

    If you guessed President Trump, you’re right.

    And if you guessed Gov. Larry Hogan, you’re also right.

    Trump and Hogan Want to Fund (and Cut) The Same Education Programs

    In January, we wrote about how Gov. Hogan’s budget contradicted his talking point that private school vouchers don’t take money away from public schools (he even said “if anything it provides for more public school funding”).

    To recap, Gov. Hogan’s budget cut more than $20 million in funding from the following programs:

    1. Public Schools Opportunities: $7.5 million for after-school and summer programs
    2. Next Generation Scholars: $5 million for college readiness scholarships
    3. Teacher Induction and Retention: $8 million to reduce teacher turnover

    It also included $7 million for BOOST, the governor’s failed voucher program that has done little more than subsidize expensive private school tuition.

    The governor is legally required to introduce a balanced budget. That means it’s a zero-sum document; Hogan chose to cut those public school programs in order to fund private school vouchers.

    Well, it looks like the White House found a little inspiration in Gov. Hogan’s private school prioritization. Because last week, President Trump proposed a budget that cut funding from the exact same public school programs while increasing spending on vouchers.

    Here’s Education Week’s reporting:

    “The proposal would completely scrap two big programs: Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, or Title II, which is currently funded at $2.25 billion and helps states and districts hire and provide professional development for teachers. The budget proposal would also get rid of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which is funded at more than $1 billion currently and finances after-school and extended-learning programs.
    “Trump is also proposing a new $250 million private school choice initiative that could provide vouchers for use at private schools, including religious schools.”
    “The priorities Donald Trump outlined in his budget are reckless and wrong for students and families. If enacted, the Trump budget will crush the dreams of students and deprive millions of opportunities.” — NEA President Lily Eskelsen García

    A Potential Double Whammy for Maryland Students

    If enacted, Trump’s budget would cut $48.3 million from Maryland public schools. Combined with Hogan’s cuts to public schools in his budget, that would take away roughly $68 million — coincidentally the same amount of school funding cut by the governor in 2015.

    This would slow achievement and limit opportunity for thousands of kids in Maryland. According to the Maryland Out of School Time Network, 243,000 children are at risk of hunger in Maryland and 270,873 school-age students are unsupervised for an average of 10 hours per week. Our kids rely on after-school programs like the ones cut by Trump and Hogan for a meal after school and a place to continue their education. And these programs show real results: the most recent program analysis of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program demonstrated participant gains in homework completion, attendance, and math and English grades.

    Maryland also has a major teacher turnover problem — which makes cutting funding for teacher retention programs a bad idea. According to Maryland State Department of Education data, more than half of new teachers leave the profession in their first three years. Teachers need experience to learn how to adjust classroom management and lesson plans to improve their own instruction — and the more inexperienced teachers are, the harder it is for students to make gains.

    Richard Ingersoll, a University of Pennsylvania professor and leading researcher on teacher turnover, estimates that turnover costs school districts in Maryland somewhere between $20 and $45 million per year. So those cuts to teacher retention programs by Trump and Hogan have a compounding effect.

    Meanwhile, more and more evidence is showing that vouchers don’t boost student achievement. Here’s the latest takeaway from Stanford University Professor Martin Carnoy, who examined research over the past 25 years, including studies of programs in Milwaukee, New York City, Washington, D.C., Indiana, and Louisiana:

    “The lack of evidence that vouchers significantly improve student achievement (test scores), coupled with the evidence of a modest, at best, impact on educational attainment (graduation rates), suggests that an ideological preference for education markets over equity and public accountability is what is driving the push to expand voucher programs.
    “Ideology is not a compelling enough reason to switch to vouchers, given the risks. These risks include increased school segregation; the loss of a common, secular educational experience; and the possibility that the flow of inexperienced young teachers filling the lower-paying jobs in private schools will dry up once the security and benefits offered to more experienced teachers in public schools disappear.”

    Hogan may not have voted for Trump, but that doesn’t matter nearly as much as whether they share the same policy priorities. On some issues, like health care and refugees, Hogan has been silent when Trump’s actions clearly harm Maryland families. But the governor goes one step further on education — he’s actively pursuing the exact same agenda.


    Who Proposed This Education Budget: Trump or Hogan? was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

  • MSEA’s Week of Action Leads to Major Progress

    Bills on over-testing and privatization advance thanks to educator activism

    Educators had a big week last week — with substantial levels of activism leading to significant steps in the right direction on the Protect Our Schools Act, the Less Testing, More Learning Act, and turning back Gov. Hogan’s private school vouchers program.

    Here’s the recap:

    Nearly 500 educators joined the March to Protect Our Schools in Annapolis on Monday

    Photos © Stephen Cherry

    Including NEA President Lily Eskelsen García…

    And public education champions like Senator Roger Manno and Delegate Eric Luedtke.

    700+ phone calls to legislators

    The calls came in all week long! On March 15, the MSEA legislative hotline hit its highest daily total of calls since 2012.

    4,000+ emails to legislators

    The outpouring of emails ran the gamut from calling on legislators to pass the Protect Our Schools Act, stop Governor Hogan’s vouchers plan, and pass the Less Testing, More Learning Act.

    100+ tweets to legislators

    And while our Wear Red for Public Ed day on Tuesday got snowed out, educators were still shoveling and bundled up in their red.

    Some even started early!

    Here’s What We Achieved Because of Educators’ Activism

    There was some real payoff to all that activism, too. Here’s what happened last week:

    1. The Protect Our Schools Act received a favorable vote in the Senate’s Education Subcommittee late Friday night. It will be voted on in the full Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee (and hopefully the full Senate) later this week, so keep those emails on it coming!

    2. The More Learning, Less Testing Act, which sets a cap on the amount of annual mandated standardized testing, passed the Senate unanimously (46–0). The House passed the bill a few weeks ago; now differences between the two chambers need to be reconciled before the bill can become law. We’re almost there!

    3. The House cut Gov. Hogan’s private school vouchers program by more two-thirds, sending that funding back to afterschool and other public school programs that the governor had cut. The budget isn’t final yet, but this is an important step in the right direction.

    This is major progress — and the power of organized educators speaking with one voice on behalf of our public schools and students.

    But we’re not there yet. Governor Hogan may veto the Protect Our Schools Act, making it all the more important that we pass it quickly so the General Assembly has time to override his veto. Click here to email your legislators or call them at 1–888–520–6732.


    MSEA’s Week of Action Leads to Major Progress was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

  • MSEA’s Successful Week of Action

    And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the Street

    Hundreds of educators in Annapolis participating in MSEA’s March to Protect Our Schools. Photo © Stephen Cherry.

    THE WEEK THAT WAS IN ANNAPOLIS

    Hundreds of Maryland Educators Brave the Snow to March for Public Schools

    MSEA’s Week of Action has been a huge success, driving public education issues to the top of the General Assembly’s agenda:

    · On Monday, more than 400 educators rallied at MSEA headquarters in Annapolis — despite a forecast of heavy snow — and then marched up to the legislative office buildings to visit with their state elected officials.

    · MSEA members made more than 700 phone calls this week to legislators with clear asks for less testing and the prevention of school privatization.

    · And throughout the week, we have sent more than 4,000 emails to legislative offices urging legislators to support the Protect Our Schools Act, the school accountability reform bill that will balance opportunity to learn indicators with testing indicators in our measurement of school success — and prevent the privatization of low-performing schools.

    · The final action was to have members and other advocates tweet at their legislators to show their support for public schools. If you missed the chance on Friday, you still have time. Click here to find your legislators’ Twitter handles and send them a quick tweet.

    Senate Passes More Learning, Less Testing Act

    The flood of educator voices throughout the week had an immediate impact, as the Maryland Senate voted 46–0 to approve the More Learning, Less Testing Act (SB452) yesterday. This bill (called the Less Testing, More Learning Act in the House) limits all federal, state, and district mandated testing to 2.2% of the school year — except in eighth grade when the limit is 2.3% — or about 25 hours annually. The bill also contains an amendment that gives districts a waiver to get over the cap if school-level educators in the local education association agree.

    This is a huge deal. Last year, this legislation didn’t make it out of the Senate. But with movement this year, both chambers have now unanimously approved the bill, albeit in slightly different forms (the House version,HB461, has a flat 2% cap, among other differences). The bill would eliminate hundreds of hours of standardized testing across 17 the state.

    We will now work with legislators to reconcile minor differences and move the bill forward again before the end of session.

    Gov. Hogan Signals Opposition to Protect Our Schools Act

    In a Trump-like ranting press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Hogan blasted Democrats in the General Assembly for just about everything under the sun. That included moves in the House to restore funding cuts in his budget proposal for after-school and summer programs, and strike $5 million from the governor’s private school voucher program (known as BOOST).

    But he also highlighted the Protect Our Schools Act (HB978/SB871), claiming the bill would take away authority from his State Board of Education. Gov. Hogan — who once campaigned on less testing and more local control for education — is now fully backing his appointees to the state school board in their efforts to take over low-performing public schools and hand over operations to for-profit, private management companies. It is expected that he will veto the Protect Our Schools Act if we are successful at getting it to his desk. That makes it even more important to reach out to legislators to ensure a veto-proof majority.

    Meanwhile, the Senate Education Subcommittee did the hard work this week of bringing in stakeholders to discuss and move the bill forward. We will have a more detailed breakdown of amendments as the bill moves through the Senate next week.

    NEWS AND NOTES

    Earned Sick Leave Passes with Veto-Proof Majority in Senate

    Gov. Hogan also announced during his press conference that he will veto the Earned Sick Leave bill should it reach his desk, even going as far as to say the House and Senate versions “are not really serious proposals.” That public threat to worker and family health probably solidified the extra few votes needed to deliver a veto-proof majority in the Senate, passing the bill 29–18 this week. There are some differences with the House bill — for example, it guarantees five days of leave instead of seven — that will have to be worked out before a final bill can get to the governor. Meanwhile, Gov. Hogan boxed himself into the corner of headlines saying he opposes an idea supported by 80% of Maryland voters.

    Trump Budget Would Cut $48 Million from Maryland K-12 Schools

    In President Donald Trump’s budget proposal — which is drawing widespread criticism for deep cuts to basic public services — public education programs addressing teacher retention and after-school programs were put on the chopping block, potentially stripping away $48 million for Maryland kids. The cuts help fund $1.4 billion for various school privatization programs, including vouchers and privately managed charter schools.

    Noticeably absent from those questioning Trump’s budget was Gov. Hogan, whose current budget makes cuts to the exact same public school programs while similarly expanding school privatization programs.

    Gov. Hogan Gets Caught Creating Fake News on Facebook

    The governor’s latest misstep on social media came this week after his team changed a Baltimore Sun headline to make

    it more positive-sounding for Hogan. The Facebook post linked to a Baltimore Sun story with the title, “Maryland Senate Committee Approves Road Kill Repeal w/Amendments” when in reality, the story was titled, “Maryland Senate committee crafts compromise on transportation scoring law.” The truth is, the governor’s bill to block transparency in transportation decisions was gutted, with the legislature essentially rewriting the entire bill.

    It turns out, this isn’t the first time the governor’s staff has used this trick to mislead the public from his official page. They did it with several DelmarvaNow articles, too.

    Senate Advances Teacher Arbitration Bill

    An important school working conditions bill is advancing in the Senate, which would give teachers the right to request an arbitration hearing — instead of a hearing officer selected by the local school board — in the case of discipline action. The full Senate is scheduled to begin debate on this bill next week.

    CAMPAIGN 2018

    Rebuilding Starts Now

    After next week’s five days of action, there’s one more ask we need to make of you and the rest of Maryland’s education community. We can only win on these issues when we have elected officials in place who are willing to work with us and stand up for our schools. That means we have to win elections up and down the ballot in 2018. So, if you can take a sixth action next week, please donate as much as you can to the MSEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Thank you!


    MSEA’s Successful Week of Action was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

  • MSEA’s Week of Action Primer

    Everything you need to know about key legislative issues

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Print ActionLine

Our magazine, ActionLine, is packed with the news you need to be an informed education professional.

We’ll keep you up-to-date on MSEA’s campaign for great public schools with member-focused feature stories, news from across the state, and the latest ideas, issues, and trends that affect you, your students, and your school. ActionLine is published five times a year.

Do you have a question or comment about an article in ActionLineContact the editor by email or at 443.433.3631.

Print Edition

June/July 2016 ActionLine

Someone has to take a stand.” Learn how Maryland kindergarten teachers took a stand against the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment when it interfered with essential instructional time. Discover how Ruthie the dog brought curriculum to life in an Allegany County elementary school? Read how to build a reflective practice with an end-of-the-year review. 

March/April 2016 ActionLine

One school in Prince George’s County is helping immigrant students thrive. MSEA’s testing campaign reached more than 1,000,000 Marylanders. MSEA is addressing new teacher induction issues. Learn more about equity literacy and how you can make a difference in your students’ success with culturally relevant instruction. ESPs scored a big victory from the Court of Appeals. Focus on educators from Dorchester and St. Mary’s counties. 

January/February 2016 ActionLine

Meet seven young activists who are setting the tone of 21st-century public education activism. MSEA meets the state commission and makes eight common sense recommendations for testing sanity. Learn more about the Friedrichs v California Teachers Association. Retirees take off in Baltimore and Charles counties.