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One-Fifth of Maryland School Staff Don’t Make Living Wages

March 14, 2018 - 4:59pm
MSEA is fighting to make sure ESPs make a living wage for their public serviceEven some school nurses in Maryland make below living wage standards for their public service.

The recent victorious nine-day teacher strike in West Virginia has restarted a national conversation about just how badly our country compensates teachers for their work with our future generations. Now, Oklahoma and Arizona unions have begun conversations about following West Virginia’s model.

Opinion | The West Virginia Teacher Strike Was Just the Start

These kinds of national stories often overshadow other vital school employees who are forgotten far too often: Education Support Professionals (ESPs).

ESPs are the non-certificated staff who are in charge of creating a safe, clean, healthy, and supportive learning environment for our students (and much more). They are our bus drivers, food and building service workers, school nurses, technicians, clerical workers, paraprofessionals, and so many other roles.

“Schools do not work if our technology is down—whether it is computers to prepare and execute instruction, internet to support the library and other research needs, or all of these systems working together for the online standardized tests. If I’m not good at my job, the school can come to a halt. And I’m not unique. Education support professional like myself are essential to the workings of all of our schools.” — Keion Dorsey, Anne Arundel County Technician

And it turns out, 24,670 of them receive less than a living wage as compensation for their public service. That’s 20% of the state’s entire Pre-K-through-12 public education workforce.

Bus drivers, building service workers, clerical workers, and food service workers are just some of the many hard-working employees often paid below living wages in Maryland public schools.ESP Living Wage Bill of 2018

When the preliminary Kirwan Commission recommendations focused on big increases for teacher salary — but barely even mentioned ESPs, who are one-third of the state’s education workforce, MSEA started working to change the conversation to include all school employees. Working with former educators Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore/Howard-District 12) and Sen. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s-District 24), we introduced legislation to create a statewide minimum salary for all school staff. Here’s how it would work:

For higher cost-of-living counties (Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s), the state will require annual wages of at least $36,000 when fully implemented. For lower cost-of-living counties, the state will require annual wages of at least $31,500 when fully implemented. From that point on, the minimum floor will rise with inflation according to the Consumer Price Index.

And in all counties, this only establishes a minimum — local unions will still have collective bargaining power to go above and beyond that threshold.

https://medium.com/media/89728f305ccf2b7772be1f445d0acaba/href

According to the Department of Legislative Services analysis of the bill, 16,610 ESPs in the higher cost-of-living counties would be brought up to the $36,000 level. In the state’s more exurban and rural counties, an additional 8,060 ESPs are expected to be raised above the $31,500 standard. In all, that’s 24,670 of the roughly 40,000 ESPs in our public schools.

“Our dedicated education support professionals show up every day to do their jobs on behalf of all the students in our great state of Maryland. They are invested, caring, and hardworking employees who are not incidental, but are instead essential in moving the school year forward day after day.” — Jill Morris, President of the Education Association of St. Mary’s CountyPath to Passage

After a successful bill hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee earlier in the month, tomorrow (March 15) is another important hearing for the legislation in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. MSEA President Betty Weller is joining Sen. Benson and three ESP leaders to testify in support of the legislation with one simple request: “Do not let ESPs be forgotten.”

But we have a chance to make an even louder statement on Monday night (March 19) during MSEA’s March to Fix the Fund in Annapolis. There, more than 1,800 educators are expected to rally and march in support of addressing $2.9 billion in funding gaps facing our schools — including the non-living wages of the majority of our ESPs.

Where Did the Gambling Money Go?

Unfortunately, our state and counties have consistently, year-in and year-out, made our ESPs a last priority when it comes to budgets. In many cases, districts do the best they can, despite inadequate county and state funding, on salaries for administrators and teachers, leaving whatever is left for para-educators, nurses, technicians, building service workers, and so on. And every year, their wages become more and more unfair and uncompetitive.

That means it’s very expensive for the state to immediately ensure all ESPs get living wages. And that’s why the $500 million increase in education funding that we can win through the Fix the Fund Act will make it possible for the state and counties to begin funding professional salaries that all public servants deserve.

You can RSVP to attend the March here:

March to Fix the Fund

One-Fifth of Maryland School Staff Don’t Make Living Wages was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Fighting to Fix the Fund

March 9, 2018 - 4:15pm
And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the StreetTHIS WEEK IN ANNAPOLISMSEA Testifies to Fix the Fund

Legislation that educators have been leading on for months finally had hearings on Thursday, as the Constitutional Amendment to Fix the Fund and put a strong lockbox on the Education Trust Fund was taken up by the House Appropriations and Senate Budget and Taxation Committees (HB 1697/SB 1122). The hearings demonstrated broad support for the goals of the bill, but competing lockbox proposals still exist. A strong lockbox that is created via Constitutional Amendment is critical to end the political games and gimmicks of the last two administrations. The lockbox in the Fix the Fund Act is much more preferable than what would be created by standalone legislation that can be amended or ended through the introduction and simple majority action of a future budget reconciliation bill.

Overriding a voter-approved Constitutional Amendment would require a three-fifths super majority. Plus, the act of voters taking action and approving this Constitutional Amendment in November will have the political power of likely dissuading future General Assemblies from even considering unlocking the lockbox. In her testimony, MSEA President Betty Weller noted, “While it is frustrating to have to pass a Constitutional Amendment to do what voters expected to have been done years ago, the last few years have proven just how important it is to lock this funding in place.”

REMINDER: Join us in Annapolis for the march to Fix the Fund

MSEA is marching on March 19 to Fix the Fund and ask the General Assembly to support HB 1697/SB 1122. Please RSVP at this link and help us engage the members and community partners needed to demonstrate strong support.

Revised Revenue Estimates Help Create New Down Payment Fund for Kirwan Recommendations

The Bureau of Revenue Estimates projected the state would realize $433 million in additional revenue for the coming year as a result of the federal tax changes that capped the state and local tax deduction for individual taxpayers. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee responded to this news by advancing a tax cut bill (SB 318) that was amended to return $200 million of this money by increasing the standard deduction for the state income tax by $500 for individuals and $1,000 for married couples. The Committee then recommended holding the rest of the revenue in a new reserve fund to support pending Kirwan Commission recommendations. State Sen. Ed Kasemeyer (D-District 12, Howard and Baltimore) told the Baltimore Sun, “[The Kirwan Commission is] going to require a lot of money. At least it’s a down payment on our getting there.”

BOOST Voucher Funding Maintained in Senate Budget Deliberations

Not all of the news coming from the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee was good this week. Their final report, which will be on the Senate floor next week for debate, includes the expansion of BOOST voucher funding as proposed by Gov. Hogan. Despite a recommendation from the Department of Legislative Services to flat-fund the program at FY18 levels, the committee decided to side with Hogan’s expansion to nearly $9 million. The action didn’t happen without a fight. Special thanks to Senators King , Ferguson, Guzzone, Madaleno and Manno for their efforts to limit the voucher program and accept the DLS recommendation.

On the heels of this unfortunate budget action, a new analysis reveals that BOOST sent $315,200 to schools teaching highly controversial curricula. Over the last two years, at least nine schools that reportedly use Bob Jones University and/or A Beka curricula have received vouchers. That means taxpayer dollars are supporting the teaching of evolution as a hoax, feminism as a “disastrous fruit,” and governments being able to force people to say they are Christians. If you don’t want to see taxes going to support the teaching of curricula well outside of the mainstream, call your legislators by dialing 1–888–520–6732 and tell them to end funding for Gov. Hogan’s private school vouchers program.

NEWS AND NOTESWest Virginia Teachers Strike Ends in Victory

On Wednesday, West Virginia teachers officially ended their nine-day strike after Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation to raise salaries by five percent. The display of solidarity and force also secured a new state task force to study better health coverage for school employees. One West Virginia reading teacher summed up the victory: “Teachers across the state came together for one goal. It’s not the raise, as much as it is having the respect that we deserve from the government, and I think that was proven today.” MSEA was proud to send several staff organizers to help the cause.

Now other states are looking at following West Virginia’s lead. The Oklahoma Education Association has announced plans to begin a statewide strike on April 2 if the legislature doesn’t address stagnant teacher salaries. Teachers in Arizona have also discussed the possibility of striking and are wearing red this week to gauge interest. And while Maryland’s average teacher salary is roughly $20,000 higher than in West Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma, it’s actually lower when taken as a percentage of the states’ respective median household incomes.

Dallas Dance Pleads Guilty

On Thursday, former Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance pled guilty to four counts of perjury and agreed to a deal that will have him serving 18 months in jail as part of falsely filing financial disclosure statements with the local board of education. Baltimore County Public Schools issued the following statement in response to the guilty plea: “We are saddened by the news but trust the judicial process. Now, we must stay focused on our students, our school system, and the important work of teaching and learning that takes place in classrooms every day. Our 113,000 students, 21,000 employees, and the Baltimore County Public Schools community deserve no less.”

Sudden Death of Senator Wayne Norman Shocks Annapolis

On Sunday, shocking news started to circulate from Harford County about the unexpected death of Sen. Wayne Norman (R-District 35, Harford and Cecil). His legislative colleagues are remembering his life with a funeral service today. Norman learned last week that he faced no opposition for re-election — as neither a primary nor a general election opponent filed against him. While the political maneuvering to fill the seat and plan for the election did not overshadow the remembrances expressed this week, there were deadlines that the Republican Central Committee faced in order to have a candidate on the ballot. The Central Committee met that deadline and recommended Jason Gallion to be Gov. Hogan’s appointee to fill the remainder of Norman’s term. But, Gallion is not expected to be the Senate candidate after the primary. In moves that are explained by Maryland Matters, the District 35 Central Committee is orchestrating efforts to ultimately have Gallion run for the House of Delegates, while current Del. Teresa Reilly (R-District 35B) would be the party’s choice to seek the full Senate term in the November general election.

CAMPAIGN 2018Madaleno Picks Up New Endorsements

State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Rich Madaleno picked up endorsements in the last week, headlined by Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-District 8) and including 27 other elected officials and community leaders. On Thursday, Madaleno also announced the endorsement of LiUNA, the 3,000+ construction workers who live and work in Maryland.

Brown Backs Trone for Congress

Congressman Anthony Brown endorsed businessman David Trone for Congress in the 6th District (portions of Montgomery and Frederick, and all of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett). The Brown endorsement comes just two weeks after gubernatorial candidate and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker endorsed Trone.

Fighting to Fix the Fund was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Evolution Has Become a Cult” and Other Lessons Your Taxes Are Supporting

March 9, 2018 - 3:36pm
Gov. Hogan’s vouchers program has sent $315,200 to schools teaching highly controversial curricula.Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education

Since its inception, Gov. Hogan’s private schools vouchers program has been controversial. The vouchers have gone overwhelmingly to students already in private schools. They’ve gone to schools that discriminate against students and their families. And study after study shows vouchers don’t actually help students, despite the strong support of Gov. Hogan and Betsy DeVos.

Add a new reason to why Gov. Hogan’s program should end: some schools teach what could generously be called highly controversial curricula, primarily from Bob Jones University and A Beka Books. Read some of it for yourself…

Photos of the BJU and A Beka textbooks containing the below quotes.4 Quotes About Non-Europeans

“After seeing all these bountiful gifts of God in the natural world, the people of Africa might have joined with the Psalmist in saying ‘O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom thou hast made them all’ (Psa. 104:24). The Africans might have done so; yet, by and large, they did not. Rather, like the early Celtic and Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of Britain, the Vikings of Scandinavia, and all other people who have not received the gospel, ‘they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.’ The history of mankind in Africa has been sad.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 335

“The Asians were left without the motivating force for more substantial, consequential levels of cultural and economic activity.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 218

“The Indian people generally became docile, peaceable, resigned, and polite. They developed almost none of that ambition for high personal achievement which makes men energetic in character and effective in life.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 215

“Islam has been waiting for its chance to conquer Europe. Its modern goal has been to infiltrate European countries instead of openly conquering them. This produced another kind of terrorist, the Europeanized Muslim.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 432

2 Quotes About Feminism

“However, the false philosophies of modernism, Darwinism, and socialism that had taken root in men’s minds during the 19th century, bore their disastrous fruit in the next one. Evolution, psychology, and feminism became three of the major agents of change in the new century.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 445

“The father was the head of the house, and the mother was his honored companion and helper. Children were taught what was expected of them and lovingly punished when they disobeyed.” New World History and Geography in Christian Perspective, p. 209

3 Quotes About Science

“In the 20th century, evolution has become a cult in which scientists are expected to believe despite all evidence against it.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 296

“Though many scientists questioned its validity, global warming became a key environmental topic in the early 21st century.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 442

“Science cannot make authoritative statements about the origin of the earth.” Science of the Physical Creation in Christian Perspective, p. 268

Strong Views on Religion…

“Government cannot force men to become Christians; it can only force them to say they are Christians.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 89

“The Roman church encouraged prayer, but the wrong kind of prayer, addressed to the wrong people. It preached the need for salvation, but the wrong way to obtain it.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 133

“The papacy had always distorted Christianity … People looked up to the pope because they believed his false claim to be Christ’s representative on earth as the successor of Peter.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 139

…And on Recent Democratic Presidents

“As socialism seemed to weaken its grip on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, it strengthened its grasp on the American people after Democrat Bill Clinton won the Presidential election of 1992.” History of the World in Christian Perspective, p. 417

“A majority of Americans were unhappy with the modifications proposed or enacted by Obama. Many expressed concern that he was leading the country in the wrong direction, while others complained that Obama had not accomplished the transformation that he promised.” World History, p. 546

$315,200 of Taxpayer Dollars Have Gone to Schools Teaching This Curricula

Since it began two years ago, at least 9 schools that reportedly use Bob Jones University and/or A Beka curricula have received $315,200 in private school vouchers, according to a recent Huffington Post investigation and state records from previous years of vouchers funding. That’s your tax dollars supporting the teaching of evolution as a hoax, feminism as a “disastrous fruit,” and governments being able to force people to say they are Christians.

Data from Huffington Post investigation and state records of BOOST funding levels by school.

Larry Hogan apparently is fine with this. “Everybody thinks it’s a great program now and working very well. … It’s been terrific,” Hogan told the Baltimore Sun. In his budget this year, he proposed increasing funding for these private school vouchers once again.

If you disagree, call your legislators by dialing 1–888–520–6732 and tell them to end funding for Gov. Hogan’s private school vouchers program.

“Evolution Has Become a Cult” and Other Lessons Your Taxes Are Supporting was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Aspiring Educators Join #FixtheFund

March 5, 2018 - 5:14pm
Defending public education is baseline advocacy for these college students

Aspiring educators were out in force in Annapolis on February 26, demonstrating the urgency and widespread support for improving the funding of Maryland’s public schools.

Thirty-one aspiring educators from four colleges — Frostburg State University, University of Maryland System at Hagerstown, Coppin State University, and the Community College of Baltimore County — descended on Annapolis, some for the very first time, to make clear to elected officials the importance of funding our schools.

Student members are briefed at MSEA headquarters in Annapolis before heading up the street to the Senate and House buildings.

They talked with legislators from across the state and asked them to support the bill to Fix the Fund, which would ensure that casino revenue in the Education Trust Fund actually increases the education budget rather than just maintains it.

During the last four years, Gov. Hogan has used $1.4 billion of casino revenue to plug holes in other parts of his budgets, leaving school funding largely flat. Fixing the Fund will stop this budget gimmick, providing a $500 million annual increase in school funding — a significant first step in closing the $2.9 billion annual underfunding of Maryland public schools.

The halls of power! Top row: The Frostburg State University Student Education Association; student members from the Coppin State University Education Association with Theresa Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Education Association. Bottom row: Student educators from the the Community College of Baltimore County with Delegate Christian Miele; student educators from the University of Maryland System at Hagerstown with Washington County Teachers Association UniServ Director Carlos Mellot.

This money means a lot to aspiring educators. It will help ensure that there is funding to support the profession they’ll join and the students they’ll teach. “It’s sad and draining to know that teachers and students are lacking basic resources they need to be successful,” said Kayla Moore. “Students are in schools that lack accessible and updated technology but are expected to pass standardized exams that are administered through computers. They are in buildings with no heat! And our teachers are in classrooms with over 30 students because the school cannot afford additional staff.”

Fixing the Fund can help tackle these problems — and aspiring educators are starting early in their advocacy to address them.

Ready to add your voice to those of aspiring educators across Maryland? Sign up to join MSEA’s March to Fix the Fund on March 19 in Annapolis.

Aspiring Educators Join #FixtheFund was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Leading the Charge on ESP Living Wages

March 2, 2018 - 1:05pm
And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the StreetESP leaders Jill Morris (St. Mary’s), Diane Deal (Carroll), Tonya Hayman (Talbot), and Keion Dorsey (Anne Arundel) with MSEA’s Betty Weller and Sean Johnson.THIS WEEK IN ANNAPOLIS (AND WASHINGTON)MSEA Leads on ESP Living Wage Bill

On Thursday, MSEA President Betty Weller was joined by four ESP leaders — TCEA’s Tonya Hayman, SAAAAC’s Keion Dorsey, EASMC’s Jill Morris, and CASE’s Diane Deal — to testify in front of the House Ways and Means Committee in support of our ESP Living Wage bill. The legislation (HB1061/SB775), sponsored by former educators Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore and Howard-District 12) and Sen. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s-District 24), would ensure that the 24,670 education support professionals who now make poverty-level wages will earn living wages.

Once fully implemented and phased-in, the bill would establish two standards — $36,000 for higher cost-of-living counties and $31,500 for lower cost-of-living counties — that will make a living wage the starting point for collective bargaining. This would not supplant the collective bargaining process, but empower it.

During the hearing, President Weller said, “It should be a Maryland value that we reward our public servants with fair pay that supports their family.” Talbot County Education Association Vice President Tonya Hayman underlined this point, saying, “Some of us have no desire to become a teacher and enjoy what we are doing. That commitment to public service should not be a commitment to poverty wages.”

Education Association of St. Mary’s County President Jill Morris made a special ask to the members of the House Ways and Means Committee who also serve on the Kirwan Commission, saying, “My request of you: Do not let us be forgotten. We are essential to how schools function. The state cannot honestly talk about excellence in public education without recognizing…the hard work of education support professionals.”

Gov. Hogan Proposes School Safety Plan

Gov. Hogan broke his two-week silence on the recent Florida school shooting with a press conference this week detailing a new plan on school safety. While he did not release specifics of his proposal, he announced $125 million for school building safety features (metal detectors, panic buttons, and bullet-proof doors and windows), hiring more school resources officers, and ramping up the role of the state’s Center on School Safety. The Baltimore Sun’s Tricia Bishop wrote a scathing op-ed ripping the governor for choosing to fund metal detectors over more learning resources.

He also declared his opposition to President Trump’s proposal to arm teachers with guns, saying he instead prefers that local school boards make their own decisions about placing armed resource officers in schools. He did show support for two gun-related ideas: one in support of “red flag” protective orders that would strip gun access from individuals going through crises, and another that would take away firearms from people convicted of domestic violence.

Supreme Court Begins Janus vs. AFSCME Hearings

The corporate-funded attack on public sector unions, known as Janus vs. AFSCME, began its hearings before the Supreme Court this week. Before the hearings started, MSEA member and Montgomery County kindergarten teacher Kember Kane spoke at a rally protesting the case, saying, “What brought me out today was making sure that people understand that the union fights for the working conditions of teachers and at the exact same time, they’re fighting for the classroom conditions our students learn in. Our children deserve better than just scraps, and our union makes sure that happens.”

Supreme Court reporters typically caution against making conclusions from the questions that justices ask during hearings, but observers expect the ruling to favor corporate interests over unions by a 5–4 margin.

NEWS AND NOTESMSEA Testifies in Support of Fight for $15

On Tuesday, MSEA joined a large coalition of advocates before the House Economic Matters Committee to push for an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. During a press conference before the bill hearing, advocates released a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute and the Maryland Center on Economic Policy showing that 573,000 Maryland workers would get a raise as a result of the legislation. MSEA member Ivory Smith, president of the Worcester County Education Support Personnel Association, asked legislators, “Please set a standard for what is fair pay in our state’s communities.”

Hogan’s Trump-Like Conflicts of Interest

This week, a new Maryland Matters investigation revealed that Larry Hogan’s real estate company has made 16 new development deals since he’s taken office as governor, some of which would benefit from transportation proposals he has made in his office. Gov. Hogan’s interests are handled by a trust while he serves as governor, but as the investigation details, it’s not a blind trust and the governor is able to adjust his private and public decisions accordingly. Several ethics experts and advocates are quoted in the story criticizing the conflicts of interest, with one even comparing them to those of President Trump.

Senator Oaks Stripped of Committee Assignments

On Monday night, a joint committee on legislative ethics announced it would strip Sen. Nathaniel Oaks (D-Baltimore City-District 41) of his committee assignments as he awaits a trial for federal corruption charges. It is the most severe punishment that can be given without a finding of wrongdoing by the committee. Federal prosecutors have urged the legislature to avoid making a full investigation into the senator’s action before he goes to trial. Meanwhile, Sen. Oaks has filed for re-election to his seat, but has two primary challengers.

CAMPAIGN 2018Krish Vignarajah Picks Former BTU President for Running Mate

Maryland now officially has seven Democratic tickets for governor in 2018 after gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah filed to run with former BTU President and Baltimore City teacher Sharon Blake. Together, they are the first-ever Maryland ticket with two women of color. Now that Vignarajah has filed, she is subject to legal challenges to her eligibility to run, which has been questioned after it was revealed that she voted in Washington, D.C. in the last five years.

New Poll Shows Baker With Early Lead

Mason-Dixon Polling released a new poll on the Democratic primary this week, showing Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in front with 26%, followed by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz with 15% and former NAACP President Ben Jealous with 14%. However, “undecided” was still leading all candidates with 32% in the poll. The other four candidates struggled to register, with none reaching 5%.

Seven Senators Will Run Unopposed

With Maryland’s candidate filing deadline now passed, seven lucky senators have found themselves without primary or general election challengers: Senators Edwards, Serafini, Guzzone, Kagan, Smith, Pinsky, and Norman.

Leading the Charge on ESP Living Wages was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Gov. Hogan’s School Board Has ZERO Public School Teachers

March 1, 2018 - 7:47pm
In response, MSEA supports bill to elect two teachers to the State Board.Gov. Hogan listens to a question at a press conference on school safety. (Credit: Governor’s Office)

Larry Hogan has amassed a considerable anti-public education record in his three-plus years as governor of Maryland through his budget proposals, legislation, and veto-power:

  1. In 2015, Gov. Hogan’s budget proposal slowed the growth of education funding — in effect, cutting — by $144 million. After the legislature reversed about $132 million of that cut, the governor used his authority to take away $68 million dedicated for schools that the legislature passed in its bipartisan budget.
  2. In 2016, Gov. Hogan again withheld $25 million for public schools that was passed in a bipartisan budget so he could use it as a bargaining chip to get legislative leaders to agree to a $37.5 million tax giveaway to one corporation — Northrop Grumman.
  3. After public school educators criticized the governor’s education funding cuts, he lashed out on Facebook and called them “union thugs.”
  4. In 2015 and 2016, Gov. Hogan proposed legislation to create a private school voucher program. While the legislature opposed the bill both times, the governor was able to use his budget authority to get it included in the budget bill. In his last two budgets, more than $10 million has been taken from public schools and sent to subsidize private school tuition.
  5. In 2017, Gov. Hogan vetoed the Protect Our Schools Act, legislation to ensure low-performing schools are not taken over by the state and handed over to privately managed operators through the state’s new Every Student Succeeds Act accountability system.
  6. Despite Gov. Hogan’s constant claim that he has record-funded education in each of his four years, his four budgets have increased education funding by less on average than the four budgets before he took office (proposed by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley).
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But these aren’t the only ways that Gov. Hogan has held back progress in Maryland public schools. As governor, he has also appointed dozens of anti-public education advocates to the State Board of Education and other local boards of education across the state.

Gov. Larry Hogan reshapes Md. gun, schools, utility boards

Hogan’s Appointments: Ideologues > Practitioners

Gov. Hogan’s State Board of Education currently has ZERO members with experience working in Maryland public schools. That’s right — the people he has chosen to create regulations and rules about Maryland schools have no first-hand experience in them.

Instead, the majority of his nine current appointments (he has left three vacant spots on the Board) have a demonstrated history of advocating for his education privatization agenda. They include:

A co-founder of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, founder of a Maryland KIPP charter school, and author of The Urban School System of the Future: Applying the Principles and Lessons of Chartering, a book on privatizing city school districts;The former president of the Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank on education policy, and co-founder of EdisonLearning, a for-profit education management group;A private school principal;A board member of MarylandCAN, a school privatization advocacy group funded largely by Walmart’s Walton family and founded by Donald Trump’s education advisor; andA former New York State Education Commissioner who authored his state’s Race to the Top Grant, ushering in a new era of standardized test-based teacher evaluations and charter school expansion (not to mention an era of severe drops in elementary school NAEP rankings in both math and English).“Hogan…triggered complaints from…proponents of traditional public schools this year when he chose a leader in the charter school movement and other charter and private school advocates to join the State Board of Education.” — The Washington Post

Of course, these are the members of the State Board who made it through the Senate confirmation process. One of Gov. Hogan’s appointments last year, Brandon Cooper, withdrew his nomination after facing questions about his failure to pay taxes, a drink driving arrest, and failure to appear in court.

Cooper also fit into Gov. Hogan’s privatization ideology, having worked at the Institute for Justice, a pro-school privatization organization that calls itself “the nation’s preeminent courtroom defender of educational choice programs.”

Hogan nominee to Maryland school board withdraws after rocky hearing

In Maryland, the governor has also had the power to appoint many members of local boards of education — not just the state school board. Perhaps the most extreme example of Gov. Hogan’s use of appointments to push his right-wing ideology is Baltimore County’s Ann Miller.

Baltimore County school board appointee draws fire for conservative stances

HB154/SB739 Would Put Two Current Teachers on the State Board of Education

In response to the stunning lack of direct stakeholders on the State Board of Education, Del. Eric Ebersole — a former Howard County math teacher — and Sen. Rich Madaleno teamed up to introduce HB154/SB739, legislation that would put two current teachers and one parent on the Board.

The two teachers would be selected through an election by their public school teacher colleagues. So while some might try to argue that this bill gives “the teachers’ union” two seats on the board, that’s not true. This is the same process used to select teacher members by the state retirement board.

As we’ve covered extensively on MSEA Newsfeed, there is a lot of work needed to rebuild morale, autonomy, and voice in Maryland’s teaching profession. MSEA sees this legislation as an important signal to teachers that their voice matters in education policy decisions.

“Adding two dedicated seats on the State Board for certified teachers is one of the best ways to empower educators to lead and address the lack of autonomy and input in policy decisions felt by teachers in the state.” — MSEA President Betty Weller

This could be an important start to a new era of smarter, more informed education decision-making. And there’s no better place to start than the top education policymaking body in the state.

Gov. Hogan’s School Board Has ZERO Public School Teachers was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

School Funding and School Safety Focal Points of a Busy Week in Annapolis

February 23, 2018 - 3:57pm
And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the StreetTHIS WEEK IN ANNAPOLISMSEA Hosts Facebook Live Event: Special Report for Educators

We took our updates related to the Kirwan Commission, 2018 legislative session, and the organizing work ahead for this year and next year directly to Facebook on Thursday evening. Click here to watch the rebroadcast of the Facebook Live Special Report. This online update was designed to allow educators to learn about the changes that could be coming to classrooms and paychecks as a result of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission) — including salary and staffing increases and expanding career and technology education and pre-K. The first step to making these changes a reality are identifying some of the resources to support a new school funding formula. That is what our work to Fix the Fund and pass a constitutional amendment to create a lockbox on the $500 million in the Education Trust Fund is all about.

REMINDER: SIGN UP FOR THE MARCH TO FIX THE FUND

MSEA is planning a march in Annapolis on March 19 called The March to Fix the Fund — which will focus on asking members of the General Assembly to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot to ensure casino gaming revenue goes towards increasing education funding. Please RSVP at this link and widely distribute the form to members and community partners.

Educators Respond to Trump’s Proposal to Arm Teachers

On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump proposed arming 20% of the nation’s teachers with guns, drawing quick opposition from parents, educators, and students. Teachers in Maryland joined their colleagues across the country in taking to social media with the #ArmMeWith hashtag, asking elected officials to arm them with more school counselors, small class sizes, less testing, more social and emotional learning — but definitely not firearms. You can read our MSEA Newsfeed story on this online movement here.

MSEA President Betty Weller was quoted in the Washington Post this morning, saying: “When hearing the idea of arming as many as 20 percent of teachers with guns, the overwhelming reaction of Maryland educators is total disbelief…It’s why you’re seeing educators across the state take to social media to talk about arming us with more school counselors and psychologists, more time to work on social and emotional learning and less time testing, and smaller class sizes so we can devote more attention to each and every student.”

MSEA plans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 6 in opposition to legislation (HB760) that would authorize any teacher with a handgun permit to carry a gun in school.

NEWS AND NOTESNew Poll Finds 71% of Marylanders Believe State Underfunds Schools

On Wednesday morning, the Goucher Poll released brand new data showing 71% of Maryland residents believe the state government spends “too little” on public education. A majority of Democrats (81%), Independents (73%), and Republicans (51%) answered “too little” in response to the question — a strong bipartisan coalition of Maryland residents. Marylanders from all corners of the state believe the state underfunds their public schools, with 73% of residents in the DC Capitol region, 68% from Central Maryland, and 73% of those living outside the urban corridor answering “too little.”

MSEA put out a press release highlighting the data, saying, “Parents and educators know the truth about how underfunded our schools have become in the last decade. The time for budget gimmicks and temporary fixes must end. The 2018 elections will be a referendum on the question of: who is ready to pass a comprehensive plan to provide our schools and students with the funding they truly need?”

MSEA Supports Bill to Strengthen Ban on Private School Discrimination

In response to several instances of discrimination by private schools participating in Gov. Hogan’s BOOST voucher program, MSEA testified this week in support of strengthening anti-discrimination protections for students. Bill sponsor Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery-District 17) is leading the effort in the Senate by introducing SB1060 — which would prohibit private schools from refusing enrollment of, expelling, withholding privileges from, or otherwise discriminating against any student or prospective student under penalty of civil suit. Del. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City-District 45) is the House sponsor of the crossfile bill, HB 1565.

CAMPAIGN 2018Hogan’s Re-Election Support Drops 10 Points

On Tuesday morning, the Goucher Poll released new polling data on Gov. Hogan’s re-election chances, showing he currently leads 47–43 with 10% undecided. This narrow lead, just slightly greater than the poll’s 3.5% margin of error, indicates that the governor has lost 10 points since February of last year — when he garnered 53% of the projected vote. Hogan is especially struggling with female (down 9 points), black (down 37 points), and younger voters (down 18 points) in a year when turnout amongst those three demographic groups is expected to spike.

Gov. Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford officially filed for re-election on Thursday.

Democratic Candidates Choose Their Running Mates

With the February 27 candidate filing deadline drawing closer, all but one Democratic candidate for governor has now selected a running mate:

· Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker selected former Baltimore City mayoral candidate Elizabeth Embry

· Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz tapped former Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin

· Former NAACP President Ben Jealous selected former Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull

· Former Venable Chairman Jim Shea picked Baltimore City Councilmember Brandon Scott

· State Senator Richard Madaleno selected former Maryland Director of Minority Affairs Luwanda Jenkins

· Former State Department Advisor Alec Ross tapped Denizens Brewing Co. Co-Owner Julie Verratti

· Former Policy Advisor to the First Lady Krish Vignarajah has not yet selected a running mate

Goucher Poll Shows Wide-Open Democratic Primary

On Thursday morning, the Goucher Poll released the third part of their latest polling effort, showing a wide-open Democratic primary. “Undecided” lapped the field with 47% of the vote, with Baker (19%), Kamenetz (12%), and Jealous (10%) in double digits. All three of those candidates saw growth from the last Goucher Poll in September. Meanwhile, Ross, Madaleno, Shea, and Vignarajah are struggling to gain name recognition with each getting below 4% of the vote.

The poll also found that education continues to be the top issue for Democratic primary voters, beating out “economy and jobs” by six points and health care by 12 points.

The same Goucher Poll release showed Maryland U.S. Senator Ben Cardin with a commanding lead over his primary challenger Chelsea Manning. Cardin currently leads the primary 61–17 with 19% undecided. Despite Cardin’s significant name recognition advantage, more than twice as many voters view Manning unfavorably (37%) than the popular incumbent senator (15%). Some have also questioned Manning’s eligibility to run.

School Funding and School Safety Focal Points of a Busy Week in Annapolis was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

#ArmMeWith ____________

February 22, 2018 - 6:09pm
Tell Trump and the NRA What You Really Need to Keep Your School Safe

You’ve probably seen the #ArmMeWith hashtag spreading throughout Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram today in response to President Trump’s outrageous suggestion that we arm 20% of America’s teachers with guns in school buildings.

https://medium.com/media/6189915ad6ee728b0db61493de2c7542/href

It’s no surprise that he’s speaking from the NRA playbook instead of listening to educators, parents, and students.

NRA Head: 'Completely Ridiculous' To Think More Guns Would Make Schools Less Safe

“This is bar none, the worst theory of action I’ve ever heard.” — Shanna Peeples, 2015 National Teacher of the Year

In Maryland, we’ve unfortunately heard this idea come up this legislative session. A Republican legislator — Harford County Del. Rick Impallaria — has introduced a bill that would authorize any teacher with a handgun permit to carry a gun in school.

Legislation to arm teachers discussed in light of school shootings

“It’s a bad idea, because we don’t want guns at our schools. If we want to arm teachers and educators, we should be arming them with school psychologists. We should be arming them with social workers.” — Sean Johnson, MSEA Director of Legislative Affairs

MSEA plans to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 6 in opposition to this horribly misguided legislation.

Educators Respond With #ArmMeWith Movement

Since Trump’s words from the White House went viral last night, educators have been speaking out to stop this terrible policy idea from gaining any sort of traction.

MSEA President Betty Weller told a Washington Post columnist today:

“When hearing the idea of arming as many as 20% of teachers with guns, the overwhelming reaction of Maryland educators is total disbelief. How could any elected official really believe that putting so many more guns in schools could make them safer?It’s why you’re seeing educators across the state take to social media to talk about arming us with more school counselors and psychologists, more time to work on social and emotional learning and less time testing, and smaller class sizes so we can devote more attention to each and every student.”body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;}

ArmMeWith enough school psychologists, social workers, & teaching assistants to ensure my students are getting all of the help they need before it becomes too much for them #SpecialEducation #teacher

 — @hekeleana

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ArmMeWith support, so that I can educate ALL of my students, no matter their level, and help them achieve their goals. Do NOT arm me with a gun. I need SUPPORT from society, our community, &amp; our politicians to help every child achieve goals. Guns have no place in education.

 — @msgliddenves

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It isn't enough to teach our children how to read. They need to learn how to deal with the complex emotions facing them + have access to mental health services. We need to remove the stigma - not just for our students/their families, but ourselves too. #ArmMeWith this, not a gun.

 — @sarahplumitallo

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The day teachers are asked to carry guns in the classroom is the day I leave my dream job I've had since I was 16 years old. I don't want to take away guns. I want control on them. #armmewith #enoughisenough #schoolsafetynow

 — @Miss_Johnston5

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Teachers are speaking out... #ArmMeWith

 — @turlingteach

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You can create your own #ArmMeWith sign here.

#ArmMeWith ____________ was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Fact Check: Hogan’s $1.4 Billion Hypocrisy

February 19, 2018 - 4:39pm
That’s how much casino revenue has been redirected from schools on his watch.Source: Governor’s Office

Last week, Gov. Hogan spent a lot of time launching partisan broadsides against other elected officials for casino revenues in the Education Trust Fund being redirected away from their intended purpose of increasing school funding.

But here’s the thing. One person has redirected more of that money away from school funding than anyone else: Larry Hogan. His budgets have taken $1.4 billion from the Trust Fund that should have gone to increasing school funding and sent it elsewhere. And he’s done so while Maryland public schools are annually underfunded by $2.9 billion, according to an independent analysis.

A policymaker who prefers privatizing public schools to adequately funding them. Also, Betsy DeVos.Gov. Hogan Has Raided $1.4 Billion from the Education Trust Fund

During his time as governor, about $1.8 billion has flowed into the Education Trust Fund from casino revenues. As the governor rightly stated at his press conference, “the voters need to get what they were promised.” What they were promised was that this $1.8 billion would amount to increases in school funding. But how much has school funding increased during Hogan’s tenure? About $400 million, due to increases in enrollment and inflation that are required by the current formula and mandated thanks to the General Assembly. In other words, the governor has raided $1.4 billion from the Trust Fund and sent it to other parts of his budget. That’s just the type of broken promise and budget gimmick he has consistently decried — and unfortunately used — during his political career.

Chart showing how Gov. Hogan has used the Education Trust Fund shell game to shift $1.4 billion away from education during his time in office. Source: Department of Legislative ServicesThe Governor’s Easy to Pick Lockbox

The main difference between Gov. Hogan’s bill and the Fix the Fund constitutional amendment is that Hogan’s bill would change Maryland law while the Fix the Fund campaign would change the Maryland constitution. While Hogan brushed off the difference at his press conference, it’s actually a big one.

If the law is amended, it can be changed, annually, by one person: the governor. Governors often submit a companion bill to their budget called the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act (BRFA, or, as you may hear it pronounced in Annapolis, bur-fah). The BRFA can amend existing mandated spending levels and is the chief vehicle that governors have used to raid funds supposedly dedicated for specific purposes like transportation or the environment. Don’t like that pesky $5 million that the General Assembly mandated to be spent on teacher induction supports? The BRFA’s your ticket to eliminate it (which Gov. Hogan has done two years in a row, by the way). The General Assembly has very limited leverage to reverse these types of budget gimmicks and policy changes buried in the BRFA because they are prohibited from adding money to the budget. They can only shift funds from one priority to another or cut funding. This limited budget authority ensures the governor has all of the power in budget negotiations.

And here’s the thing: we have been here before with this governor. Gov. Hogan has repeatedly used the BRFA to amend the law and cut mandated education spending. From proposing more than $100 million in cuts to school funding in his first year as governor to cutting the aforementioned teacher induction supports, as well as after-school programs and college scholarships for low-income students, Hogan has repeatedly used the BRFA to cut promised education spending. And he could do the same if his bill passes rather than the constitutional amendment.

If a constitutional amendment is approved by the General Assembly before April 9 (the last day of session) and by Marylanders at the ballot box in November, no governor can ever again use a budget gimmick like the BRFA to touch that commitment to our schools.

It’s Time to End the Casino Budget Gimmicks

Join hundreds of educators in Annapolis on March 19 at 6 p.m. as we March to Fix the Fund. Put an end to the shell game and make sure that schools get the funding that was promised. Click here to learn more and RSVP!

Fact Check: Hogan’s $1.4 Billion Hypocrisy was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

After Diverting $1.4 Billion from the Education Trust Fund, Hogan Backs Plan to Fix the Fund

February 16, 2018 - 10:17am
And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the StreetChart showing how Gov. Hogan has used the Education Trust Fund shell game to shift $1.4 billion away from education during his time in office. Source: Department of Legislative ServicesTHIS WEEK IN ANNAPOLISGov. Hogan Backs Fix the Fund, Announces His Own Bill

On Wednesday, Gov. Hogan backed the legislature- and educator-led campaign to Fix the Fund — albeit by introducing his own bill. According to his press conference remarks, his version would merely make it mandatory by law for the governor’s budget proposal to use the Education Trust Fund revenue to increase education funding. His bill aims to avoid the far stronger lockbox that would be created by taking this step by way of a constitutional amendment; leaving the funds susceptible to the same shell game we have seen for years since a governor could “pick the lock” of Hogan’s version of the lockbox whenever they wanted to via the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act. Finally, his proposal would also send a small portion of the revenue to school construction dollars, leaving less to fill the $2.9 billion annual underfunding gap for operating expenses like educator salaries and staffing increases.

While the governor stole headlines by claiming credit for the idea, he also inadvertently conceded that his own budgets have amounted to a $1.4 billion broken promise. After all, that’s how much more funding would have gone to schools during his time in office had he not raided the Education Trust Fund to plug holes in other parts of his budget proposals.

MSEA released a statement in response, saying in part, “There’s some real hypocrisy in proposing legislation to make you do something you’ve refused to do on your own.” We then called on Gov. Hogan to send the legislature an additional budget — called a supplemental budget — with the $364 million he took away from the Education Trust Fund in his current budget proposal.

Kirwan Preliminary Report Released

The long-awaited Kirwan Commission Preliminary Report was released yesterday following a press conference by legislative leaders and the Commission’s chair, Dr. Brit Kirwan. The report paints a bleak picture of the state of Maryland education based on consultant findings that the average public school is underfunded by $2 million every year.

The Commission wants to address this underfunding by focusing on policy strategies like providing universal access to pre-kindergarten programs, expanding Career and Technical Education (CTE), utilizing the community school model in communities of concentrated poverty, raising teacher salaries, reducing teacher workload, and hiring more mental health professionals.

Legislative leaders are advancing some small recommendations from the Commission this session in one omnibus bill (HB1415/SB1092). Sponsored by House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel-District 30A) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-Calvert, Charles & Prince George’s-District 27), ideas included in the bill include:

· Establish a Career and Technical Education group, composed of individuals with expertise in CTE programs and the needs of the business community to develop rigorous CTE pathways leading to industry-certified credentials.

· Expand the current program of early childhood education by increasing the funding for prekindergarten expansion grants.

· Require MSDE, in collaboration with stakeholders, to develop a comprehensive recruitment program aimed at the top 25% of graduates from high schools (in each school system) to encourage them to consider teaching as a profession.

· Expand and fully fund the Maryland Teaching Fellows Scholarship to provide tuition remission for teachers in return for a commitment to teach in high-needs schools.

· Establish a grant program for jurisdictions or schools with high concentrations of poverty to provide additional academic instruction through after-school and summer programs.

REMINDER: SIGN UP FOR THE MARCH TO FIX THE FUND

MSEA is planning a march in Annapolis on March 19 called The March to Fix the Fund — which will focus on asking members of the General Assembly to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot to ensure casino gaming revenue goes towards increasing education funding. Please RSVP at this link and widely distribute the form to members and community partners.

NEWS AND NOTESHorror and Tragedy in Parkland, Florida

Another school shooting in America. This one in Parkland, Florida, took the lives of 17 students and educators. It was the 18th school shooting already in 2018. Check in with NEA and the Florida Education Association to access resources for educators and parents to use to help their students cope with trauma.

This tragedy brought extra attention on Del. Rick Impallaria (R-Baltimore and Harford-District 7) and his efforts to pass HB 760 that would allow some school employees to carry guns in schools. While there are many research- and publicly-backed policy proposals that could help stem gun violence, this is not one of them. MSEA opposes this legislation. WBAL-TV11 ran a report on the bill and included our opposition. If the conversation is about arming educators, it should be arming them the school psychologists, counselors, social workers, school nurses, community schools, and smaller class sizes necessary to do their jobs and more quickly identify and give concentrated support to troubled students.

House Economic Matters Committee Votes Down Anti-Worker Legislation

Like clockwork, every legislative session, legislators hostile to workers and their unions introduce legislation to compromise collective bargaining. They call it “right to work.” This year, it was introduced as HB 264. Several states have shifted to “right to work” status in the last eight years, and wages in those states have dropped precipitously despite corporate earnings increasing. The proposal is a race to the bottom that Maryland has rightly rejected year after year. And as of Wednesday, Maryland rejected it again, with the House Economic Matters Committee voting 13–7 to kill the bill. And yesterday, that same committee voted 12–11 to oppose legislation that was seeking to delay the accrual and effective date of the earned sick leave legislation that passed last year and was implemented by veto override this year. Qualifying workers were able to start earning sick leave as of February 11, and with the defeat of SB 304, that benefit will continue to be available to them.

CAMPAIGN 2018Jim Shea Taps Brandon Scott as His Running Mate

On Thursday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Shea selected Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott as his pick for lieutenant governor. Scott adds elected experience, youth, and racial diversity to the statewide ticket. In announcing the pick, Scott indicated his interest in working on public education and public health issues. While Shea has trailed in public polling, he raised the most money of any Democratic candidate in 2017 and has the second most cash-on-hand as of the January finance reports.

Baker Endorses Trone, and Vice Versa

Two leading Democrats in two different races agreed to endorse each other this week. Gubernatorial candidate and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker endorsed businessman David Trone for Congress in the 6th District (portions of Montgomery and Frederick, and all of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett). Later in the week, the Washington Post reported on how Trone is backing Baker and helping raise money for his campaign. Both men face challenging primaries in June 2018.

After Diverting $1.4 Billion from the Education Trust Fund, Hogan Backs Plan to Fix the Fund was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Coping Skills for Educators from a Maryland School Nurse

February 14, 2018 - 3:45pm
Recognizing and dealing with educator stressNurse Kimberly Finley checks in with colleague Shannon Ward, an additional adult assistant at Hawthorne Elementary Schools in Baltimore County

Kimberly Finley is a registered nurse at Baltimore County’s Hawthorne Elementary School. Like many school nurses, she delivers care not only to students in the school, but to the adults as well. We talked with Kimberly recently about recognizing and coping with the symptoms of educator stress.

Where does educator stress come from? What does it look like?

For educators, expectations are being raised each year while support is often reduced as result of funding cuts. Constantly changing job expectations alone are a huge stressor. But there’s more.

Educators understand that they have a responsibility to provide students with a safe, stable, and healthy learning environment but they have no control over a student’s home life. My co-workers are deeply affected by our students’ life experiences including, traumas, hunger, incarceration of a family member, unsafe neighborhoods, economic status, and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). They don’t, however, often connect their own stress and its symptoms — like headache, stomachache, chest pain, and muscular pain — with that of their students, classroom behavior and the inability to control it, a lack of student services, parent compliance, and other student and school issues.

Nurturing Resilience — Post-Traumatic Growth

My student nurse said recently that she was surprised I spent so much time on the health problems of our staff. It was a fair and honest observation. I believe most schools understand that healthy students learn better, but they must also understand that a healthy teacher instructs better and can make a greater impact on a student’s education and life.

Last year, I had a few hundred visits from staff into my health suite. I often bring in breakfast sandwiches, special coffees or teas, coloring books, and, most importantly, candy that I keep in a can marked TREATS. Everyone knows that I don’t count how many pieces someone takes, but I do use the can as a gauge of how difficult the day or week had been.

How do you address the challenge of assisting staff with health issues?

I’ve created a safe, trusted, private, confidential, and non-judgmental space so my colleagues feel comfortable and supported in sharing a physical or mental health concern. What is shared stays with me.

This school year, I opened a discussion with my staff about stress and stressors. Stress can come from good (a new job or house, the birth of a child) and bad (the loss of a family member or job, a divorce) events in our lives.

What are your suggestions to help educators deal with the stress of their jobs?

A teacher’s environment and administration has the ability to make them or break them. I feel fortunate to work with my co-workers towards building a healthy and resilient school community.

To manage stress effectively, you must take a holistic approach and should include physical, mental, and spiritual assessments. The most powerful thing a person can do is to acknowledge that stress exists.

Mitigating the Stress Contagion

I’d like to share some great advice from a college nursing professor: most of us do not have the time to spend four hours on ourselves (let alone an hour), but there are many things you can do in five minutes.

5 ways Nurse Kim helps co-workers manage stress on the job:1. If someone is having an emotional moment in my office, I first allow them to just talk while I listen quietly.2. I offer my presence or, if they prefer privacy, another room off my main office.3. I have a long mirror in my office. If an educator’s stress is related to unrealistic expectations or being overly critical of themselves, I place my hand on their shoulder and ask them to say their name and three things they like about themselves.For instance, “My name is Nurse Kim. I am a caring, kind, and compassionate nurse who has the pleasure of serving my staff, students, and my school community with healing hands, knowledge, and words. I will continue to learn to the best I can be and allow myself room to grow in my profession.”4. If a co-worker has trouble with the suggestion above, I say 10 things that I like about them. I emphasize we can thank others for kind words, but it’s the words we tell ourselves that are the loudest.5. I recommend aromatherapy (lavender for calmness, eucalyptus for reducing stress and helping with respiratory issues), music, humor, yoga, coloring, deep breathing, worry stones, stretching, journaling, massage, meditation, and repeating a phrase from a book or poem that they love or a mantra that they create for themselves.

Coping Skills for Educators from a Maryland School Nurse was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Join the March to Fix the Fund

February 12, 2018 - 12:36pm
It could mean an additional $500 million in school funding.

On March 19, we’re marching to Fix the Fund. We want the General Assembly to pass the Fix the Fund Act to make sure that gaming revenues go where they were intended — to increase school funding. During the last four years, Gov. Hogan has used $1.4 billion of this revenue to plug holes in other parts of his budgets. The Fix the Fund Act will stop this budget gimmick, providing a $500 million annual increase in school funding — a significant first step in closing the $2.9 billion annual underfunding of Maryland public schools.

March to Fix the Fund

Here are three great reasons to join the March to Fix the Fund:

1. It Makes a DifferenceEducators at MSEA’s March to Protect Our Schools in 2017.

When educators and public education supporters show up, policymakers listen. Last year, hundreds of educators joined the March to Protect Our Schools. Legislators responded by unanimously voting for the More Learning, Less Testing bill in the Senate just days later, sending it on its way to final passage. The Protect Our Schools Act passed only two weeks after the march.

We have power in numbers. And when we demonstrate our power, it makes an impact on elected officials.

2. It’s Awesome to Join a Crowd of Educators from across Marylandhttps://medium.com/media/404d8989786c61300357c619a01d02b8/href

“It’s so comforting to know that you’re not alone,” 7th grade language arts teacher Claire Barnaby said at MSEA’s 2011 Rally to Keep the Promise. “I sit in my classroom with 30 kids and I don’t know that I’m supported by others in the nation. It’s so great to come here and have all these people be on my side.”

Educators across the state whom you’ve never met are facing many of the same challenges in their schools that you are — and coming together to speak with one voice to make changes that will help you and your students can be empowering, exciting…and fun!

Educators at MSEA’s March to Protect Our Schools in 2017.3. It’s Not Every Year We Can Add $500 Million to School Funding

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revamp and improve the state’s school funding formula with the Kirwan Commission. We must use it to make a new Maryland Promise that all kids have a great public school — and an equal opportunity for success — no matter their neighborhood. Our first step in funding that promise is fixing the fund and adding $500 million annually to school funding.

Opportunities like this don’t come around often. It’s been 15 years since the last revision to Maryland’s school funding formula and a significant new investment in schools.

Yep…we marched 15 years ago for the last funding formula too!

For many educators, this may be the one shot in your career to radically change and improve how schools are funded. Make sure your voice is heard so we can improve teaching and learning conditions across Maryland! Click here to RSVP to join the March to Fix the Fund.

Join the March to Fix the Fund was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

March to Fix the Fund Set for March 19

February 9, 2018 - 3:34pm
And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the StreetTHIS WEEK IN ANNAPOLISIntroducing: The March to Fix the Fund

Building on the success of last year’s March to Protect Our Schools, MSEA is planning another march in Annapolis called The March to Fix the Fund — which will focus on asking members of the General Assembly to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot to ensure casino gaming revenue goes towards increasing education funding.

Since 2012, $1.7 billion has gone into the Education Trust Fund from casino revenues, but it hasn’t increased funding for schools and students as intended. Instead, the same amount of money that was already going to education was redirected to other areas of the budget. Passing the Fix the Fund Act will prevent that from ever happening again and result in an increase of $500 million in school funding. It’s a promising first step to closing the $2.9 billion school funding gap before the legislature passes the new school funding formula in 2019.

The event will take place on March 19 at 6 p.m. on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis. Please RSVP at this link and widely distribute the form to members and community partners. You can also find resources to help organize members to attend the march here. And you can see how much of the $500 million would go to each district (based on the current funding formula) here.

MSEA Opposes Gov. Hogan’s Public School Smear Campaign

In an effort to distract from his record of underfunding Maryland schools, Gov. Hogan has proposed two bills aimed at attracting negative publicity to school districts across the state. MSEA offered testimony against both bills to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee this week:

1. Protect Our Schools Repeal Bill (HB351/SB301): Despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Education just approved Maryland’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan, Gov. Hogan is refighting a battle he already lost with the General Assembly by attempting to repeal part of last year’s Protect Our Schools Act. The bill would raise the weighting for PARCC scores in a school’s overall rating under the new accountability system, taking weighting away from metrics like student attendance, school climate and safety, and access to well-rounded and advanced courses — effectively sending the state back to the days of No Child Left Behind’s test and punish culture.

MSEA Vice President Cheryl Bost led a panel of education advocates arguing for an unfavorable report on the bill so the state can get to work implementing our newly approved plan.

2. School Accountability Politicization Bill (HB355/SB302): This administration bill would create a new Investigator General position within the Maryland State Department of Education but governed separately by a new commission. The governor claims that the state needs a truly independent investigator to look into allegations of mismanagement and fraud in school districts. One problem: the bill sets up an investigator who would be anything but independent. According to the legislative language, the governor’s political appointees would hire and oversee the new position.

MSEA submitted written testimony opposing the politicization of school accountability for the personal benefit of the governor. The letter to the committee read in part: “Senate Bill 302 would create a system ineffective at oversight albeit effective at generating negative publicity at the behest of the chief executive, which appears to be the larger aim of this bill. The investigator general envisioned in this legislation would be hand-picked by appointees of the governor. That makes the position a political appointment — hardly an independent watch dog.”

General Assembly Moves Forward on Plan to Protect Maryland Taxpayers

In response to the federal tax bill’s adverse impact on Maryland taxpayers, the Maryland Senate passed legislation to allow Marylanders to continue to take the personal exemption on their taxes — estimated to save taxpayers from a $730 million tax increase. The bill, which is considered the least controversial in a set of competing responses to the GOP-backed tax reform law, passed unanimously in the Senate. Gov. Hogan and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly have dueling plans on how to preserve itemized deductions for higher-income earners and it remains unclear whether the two sides will reach a compromise.

One underreported effect of the new national tax law is a provision that allows families to receive a tax deduction for money spent through 529 plans for private K-12 education — now known as the Ted Cruz provision. This will likely cost the state of Maryland $31 million per year in combined state and local tax revenue. Fortunately, legislators are working on a way to ensure important public school funding isn’t re-directed to private schools through this neo-voucher scheme. Del. Clarence Lam (D-Baltimore and Howard-District 12) has introduced legislation (HB644) to make sure private K-12 education expenses are not eligible for state tax deductions. MSEA is waiting on analysis from the Department of Legislative Services to find the most effective way to protect public school funding.

NEWS AND NOTESGov. Hogan’s Transportation Chief Pledges “Blank Check” to Amazon

Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn worried lawmakers this week when he told a panel of senators that the state was prepared to let Amazon have full discretion over Maryland’s transportation decisions if that’s what it takes to win HQ2. He’s quoted as saying, “Our statement for HQ2 is we’ll provide whatever is necessary to Amazon when they need it. For all practical purposes, it’s a blank check.”

In response to public outcry that Maryland would put the needs of Amazon over the people of the state, Gov. Hogan’s office backtracked from Secretary Rahn’s comments, claiming he misspoke. But promising $5 billion to a private company follows a pattern of corporate welfare from the Hogan Administration, which has cut special deals for Marriot and Northrop Grumman at the expense of taxpayers who are left making up the lost revenue for critical public services.

Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman to Retire

In surprise news on Thursday, Budget and Taxation Chairman Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-Baltimore and Howard-District 12) announced he will forego his re-election campaign and retire at the end of his term. His distinguished career of 30+ years in elected office includes eight years leading the budget-writing committee.

CAMPAIGN 2018Sen. Ben Cardin Files for Re-election

Earlier this week, Ben Cardin filed to run for his third term in the U.S. Senate. The announcement had been expected, but is now official just a few weeks ahead of Maryland’s February 27 candidate filing deadline. He served as top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2015–2018, and now serves as the ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. He will face four other Democrats in the June 26 primary.

Independent Support for Ben Jealous’ Gubernatorial Campaign

SEIU 1199 is leading an independent expenditure committee designed to support former NAACP President Ben Jealous’ campaign for governor. Maryland Together We Rise is prohibited from coordinating directly with the Jealous campaign but is expected to tout his resume as a civil rights leader and his work on issues related to jobs, economic opportunity, and health care.

March to Fix the Fund Set for March 19 was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Making Maryland the Best State for Public School Educators

February 8, 2018 - 1:27pm
The Kirwan Commission wants Maryland to be a leader in recruiting and retaining excellent educators

If you’ve been following MSEA Newsfeed, you know we’re focused like a laser on the Kirwan Commission — a 25-member panel of state leaders, education experts, and public education advocates working on a plan to address Maryland’s $2.9 billion funding shortage with innovative strategies to improve our schools. It’s a once-in-a-generation chance to close resource and opportunity gaps in our state education system.

After starting its work more than two years ago, the Commission has released a set of preliminary policy recommendations. They now plan to build a new school funding formula — based on the cost of those ideas — for the Maryland General Assembly to take action on in 2019.

But in the meantime, we’re engaging educators and our community partners to make sure the Commission gets the policy recommendations right. So MSEA is writing a series of briefs designed to help you get up to speed and give you a chance to voice your thoughts.

Last week, we covered the Commission’s recommendations to expand access to public pre-K programs:

Here’s How the Kirwan Commission Wants to Expand Early Childhood Education

This week, we’re focusing on their preliminary plan to make Maryland’s educator workforce the best in the nation and a leader in the world.

Rebuilding the Teaching Profession Pipeline

The Kirwan Commission has focused heavily on addressing declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs in Maryland and across the country. According to the Learning Policy Institute, enrollment in U.S. teacher-preparation programs dropped from 691,000 in 2009 to 451,000 in 2014, a 35 percent decline. Maryland has seen similar negative trends: University of Maryland data shows that our state saw a 19% decline in enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs from 2010–2014:

University of Maryland College of Education graph of P-12 Longitudinal Data System Dashboards

With fewer applicants for teacher education programs, universities in Maryland are less selective with who they accept. According to Kirwan Commission draft documents:

“While the University of Maryland, College Park Campus (UMCP) and Towson University both require a 3.0 minimum GPA for candidates, the academic record of the high school students going into teacher education at UMCP are among the lowest of those going into any professional preparation program, and, alarmingly, only a handful of students among the thousands entering these two universities every year elect to prepare themselves to be teachers.”

Meanwhile, data shows that our education preparation programs are failing to adequately train many students. The University of Maryland has found that the state’s 24 school districts hire just 30–40% of recent graduates from teacher preparation programs. Instead, 68% of their new hires are from out-of-state — coming from preparation programs that the state has no ability to improve or hold accountable.

The Tipping Point: Solving the Staffing and Salary Crisis in Maryland Schools

In an effort to drive up demand for entering Maryland’s teaching profession and ensure more recent graduates are hired in Maryland schools, the Kirwan Commission has made the following preliminary recommendations:

  1. Offer high-performing graduating seniors at Maryland high schools a free college education — including tuition, fees, and room and board — if they major in education and commit to teach for a certain number of years (to be determined in the final report or in future legislation) in a Maryland public school. Priority would be given to applicants who commit to teach in high-needs schools. The scholarship would also be made available for career changers who need to go back to school to get teacher certification and college students who change their major to education.
  2. Mandate that universities improve the standards for entering education preparation programs and increase rigor for what is expected for graduation.
  3. Provide college students majoring in education ample opportunities for clinical experience in classrooms to confirm their interest in and aptitude for teaching early in their college careers.
  4. Use program approval power to more rigorously assess the quality of college preparation programs by examining the success of teachers early in their careers. The Commission recommends that success of programs not be based on Praxis entrance exams and other test-based indicators.
  5. Raise teacher compensation and improve the conditions under which teachers work.
Supporting and Compensating Excellent Teachers

In the fall, we wrote in MSEA Newsfeed about the promising ideas coming out of the Kirwan Commission on elevating teacher pay to match comparable highly-skilled professions, like CPAs and architects:

Kirwan Commission Takes Major Step Forward on Teacher Pay

Here’s a refresher. The Commission has made the following preliminary proposal:

  1. In the first five years of implementation, the Kirwan plan would raise Maryland’s average teacher salary to match that of Massachusetts and New Jersey — which we estimate would reach $92,000 by 2024, a 34% increase from the $68,000 the average teacher in Maryland makes now.
  2. Following that increase, Maryland would implement career ladders that provide exemplar teachers the opportunity to take on leadership roles — like mentor, instructional coach, or curriculum specialist — for significantly increased salary. For example, the top of the teacher side of the ladder would pay the same salary as the top of the administrative ladder (see Y-shaped model below). During this move, the state would ask districts to increase teacher pay to match comparable highly-educated and skilled professions in their region. The Commission estimates that teachers across the state are currently at about 40% of the salaries of these comparison career options.
  3. Each district would have its own locally-negotiated educator leadership structure, with some broad commonalities determined in a statewide framework. Criteria for advancement would not be based on standardized test scores, and release time would be given to teacher leaders so they have the time to accomplish their tasks — while still staying in the classroom part-time.

The Commission has made a number of other recommendations to improve teacher working conditions, especially for new educators:

More Planning and Collaboration Time

Maryland teachers spend between 70–80% of their day teaching. It’s closer to 40% in better performing countries where collaboration, observation, and other professional development is valued as essential skill-building. With more time to plan, learn, and work in coordination with colleagues, teachers can improve the craft and make more progress with struggling students. The Commission’s staff and consultants are busy figuring out the costs for this recommendation. The deliberations of the Commission and legislature over the next year will determine what the decrease will be.

Better Mentoring for New Teachers

While the state has regulations in place that require a mentor for all new teachers, its implementation has been quite poor.

New Teacher Support in Maryland: Rhetoric vs. Reality

One key example: 85% of mentors say they are not given a reduced workload to spend time with new teachers in their caseload. The Commission wants to fix that issue by requiring release time for mentor teachers so they can focus on helping their mentees.

Improving School Leadership Quality

While principals play a central role in a school’s effectiveness, Maryland requires little demonstration of success as a teacher — let alone success in mentoring and supporting the instruction of other colleagues in their school building — to become a school leader. According to the Learning Policy Institute, the lack of adequate support from school leadership is one of the key factors in Maryland’s second-worst school working conditions ranking.

In surveys, just 41% of Maryland teachers strongly agree that their school administration’s behavior toward the staff is supportive and encouraging.

To address this problem, the Commission has recommended that educators meet several standards before reaching administration:

  1. Principals should have “demonstrated the skills and knowledge needed to be highly competent instructional leaders.” As you can see in the Y-shaped career ladder model above, educators would be required to demonstrate excellent content and instruction skills and success in mentoring less experienced colleagues before reaching school leadership.
  2. In order to ensure school leadership matches the diversity and needs of our student population, the recommendations require that principals must have “significant experience and success at schools that represent the demographic and economic diversity of the school districts in which they have worked.”
What Do You Think?

Agree with the Commission’s plan? Think they could make some improvements? Comment on the Facebook post you clicked to get to this story.

Making Maryland the Best State for Public School Educators was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Legislators, Educators Launch Fix the Fund Campaign

February 2, 2018 - 12:02pm
And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the StreetMontgomery County special educator Carissa Barnes flanked by President Weller and legislators at the Fix the Fund press conference on January 30.THIS WEEK IN ANNAPOLISLegislators, Educators Launch Fix the Fund Campaign

With the state facing a $2.9 billion funding shortage, MSEA teamed up with state legislators to announce the first step in a year-long plan to adequately fund Maryland public schools — a plan we are calling The Maryland Promise. That starts with passing the Fix the Fund Act, a constitutional amendment to ensure casino gaming money goes to increasing education funding rather than being diverted elsewhere in the budget. This would increase the overall state aid for education by $500 million — beyond that of increases through enrollment and inflation changes — in the next few years. The legislation needs to be approved by 29 senators, 85 delegates, and then a majority of voters on the 2018 general election ballot because it is a constitutional amendment.

The Tuesday press conference featured the top leadership of the General Assembly: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-Calvert, Charles, and Prince George’s-District 27), House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Annapolis-District 30A), Senate Education, Health, and Environment Committee Chair Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore City-District 43), House Appropriations Chair Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City-District 43), and House Ways and Means Chair Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery-District 14). They were joined by MSEA President Betty Weller and Carissa Barnes, a special educator from Montgomery County.

For years, the Education Trust Fund has been effectively diverted away from public schools. In Gov. Hogan’s three budgets, as well as his most recent budget proposal, $1.4 billion in general funds that should have gone to education have been moved elsewhere in the budget. To find out more about how we’re working to end this budget gimmick, read our MSEA Newsfeed story.

Pro-Workers’ Rights Bills Introduced

As part of our fight for good education policy and funding, MSEA supports efforts to strengthen collective bargaining and workers’ rights. There are three key pieces of legislation with this focus that we will be supporting this legislative session:

1. Representative Access to New Educators (HB811): Sponsored by House Education Subcommittee Chair Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery-District 14), this legislation would require school districts to give exclusive bargaining units access to all new educators within 30 days — or the first pay period — of the date of hire. Educator associations are legally required to provide representation and bargain on behalf of all employees, not just members, and therefore should have the ability to communicate with all new educators. This will allow all educators to have a fair shot at being represented. Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery-District 18) will be the Senate sponsor.

2. Teacher Arbitration Rights (SB639): Sponsored by Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard-District 13), this bill would provide fairness to the process for suspending or dismissing a certificated school employee. This bill accomplishes that fairness by allowing an employee to request a hearing before an arbitrator instead of a hearing officer selected and paid by the local board of education. The bill also provides equity because the ability to select an arbitrator brings the process in line with non- certificated employees, most of whom have that right by virtue of their collective bargaining agreements. Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Howard/Baltimore-District 12) will be the House sponsor.

3. Community College Collective Bargaining (HB667/SB408): Sponsored by Del. Keith Haynes (D-Baltimore City-District 44A) and Sen. Guzzone, this bill would establish collective bargaining rights for Maryland’s community college employees. Our community college educators should have a voice in how their schools work to improve not just working conditions for employees, but learning conditions for students.

Educators, Parents Push for Representation on State School Board

On Thursday, MSEA President Betty Weller joined TCEA President Andy Burke and PGCEA’s Rowena Shurn — as well as the Maryland PTA and lead sponsor Del. Eric Ebersole — to testify in favor of legislation (HB154) to put two current teachers and one parent of a current public school student on the State Board of Education. The two teachers would be chosen through a state-run election of all Maryland certified teachers. Currently, the State Board has no members who have taught in Maryland public schools.

NEWS AND NOTESState of the State

Just one day after President Donald Trump presented his State of the Union address, it was Gov. Larry Hogan’s turn. To mixed reviews in his final State of the State address, Hogan outlined his legislative priorities and kicked off his re-election campaign at the same time, focusing on a line he repeated at least six times, that Maryland “cannot afford to turn back now.” His status-quo message and underwhelming administrative proposals will be put to the test as legislators and voters wrestle with how best to protect Maryland from the dangerous policies of the Trump Administration.

School Construction Projects Approved

Last week, the Board of Public Works approved this year’s Capital Improvement Program, including school construction projects prioritized by local governments. The Public School Construction website lists projects by county and provides a summary document of all requests, including the approved projects so far for fiscal year 2019. Click here to get all of the details of the public school construction program and approved projects.

Tracking the Legislative Session

So much for a quiet “election year” General Assembly session. Delegates and senators have already introduced more than 1,500 pieces of legislation. And the bill introduction deadlines don’t hit until next week. To be guaranteed a bill hearing, Senate bills must be introduced by Monday, February 5 and House bills must be introduced by Friday, February 9. Find and read bills, watch committee hearings, and follow floor debates through the General Assembly’s homepage.

CAMPAIGN 2018Casa in Action Endorses Ben Jealous

CASA in Action, one of the region’s most prominent immigrant advocacy groups, endorsed former NAACP President Ben Jealous for governor last week. This is the latest progressive group to support Jealous, following earlier endorsements from SEIU, CWA, Maryland Postal Workers Union, Maryland Working Families, and Our Revolution.

Latest Reports from the 6th Congressional District

With Rep. John Delaney (D-CD 6) announcing plans to step down from the House of Representatives and pursue a campaign for president of the United States, there are heated primaries in both parties to replace him. Among the Democrats, Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery-District 15) narrowly trails self-funder David Trone (owner of Total Wine and More) in their cash on hand reports. Del. Miller reported raising the most donors during the final quarter of 2017, bringing in $300,000 and ending the year with $752,000 in the bank. Sen. Roger Manno (D-Montgomery-District 19) is also running for the seat, and reported having $285,000 on hand.

Legislators, Educators Launch Fix the Fund Campaign was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Where Did the Gambling Money Go?

February 2, 2018 - 9:32am
It’s time to close the school funding gap.

In 2008, Maryland voters approved casino gambling at the ballot box. And in 2012, Marylanders approved the expansion of gambling into table games. Many people cast their votes in favor believing that it would lead to dramatic increases in public school funding.

That hasn’t happened.

Source: Department of Legislative Services

The Education Trust Fund (ETF) has collected nearly $3 billion in revenue from gaming (the blue bars), but school funding (the red bars) has only increased by about $1 billion during the same time. The vast majority of those increases were dictated by the state funding formula and driven by increased enrollment and inflation.

So how did this happen? Funding for public schools comes from two sources: the general fund (paid for by things like income and sales taxes) and the ETF (paid for by taxes on casino operators’ earnings). All the money in the ETF went to public schools...but an equivalent amount of general fund money that had been going to schools was then redirected to other programs. The end result: instead of dramatically improving, school funding tread water.

Funding from the first couple years of the ETF during the Great Recession helped to prevent the kinds of deep cuts and layoffs that other states experienced. But as the economy recovered, casino revenue skyrocketed while school funding ticked up at a much lower rate. During the Hogan Administration alone, more than $1 billion in the Education Trust Fund that could have gone to increasing school funding has been diverted elsewhere. As a consequence, the teacher to student ratio increased, educator salaries dropped compared to similar highly-skilled professions, and student learning suffered as opportunity gaps persisted and expanded.

It’s Time to Fix the FundMontgomery County special educator Carissa Barnes flanked by President Weller and legislators at the Fix the Fund press conference on January 30.

We know that our schools are underfunded by $2.9 billion annually, according to an independent analysis. Fixing the fund — making sure that 100% of the money in the ETF actually increases school funding — is the first step in closing that underfunding gap. Budget analysts project that fixing the fund could result in $500 million in additional school funding annually.

The next step will happen during the 2019 General Assembly session when legislators adopt a new school funding formula to address the underfunding and take critical steps like improving educator pay, increasing staffing, and expanding early childhood education.

Ready to Help?Educators on the march at MSEA’s 2017 March to Protect Our Schools. (Photo © Stephen Cherry)

On March 19, we’re holding a March to Fix the Fund in Annapolis at 6 p.m. Come to fight for more school funding and make sure that all gaming proceeds actually, finally, go to increasing school funding. Click here to learn more and RSVP.

Where Did the Gambling Money Go? was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Inside MSEA: We’re at the Table with the Kirwan Commission

February 2, 2018 - 9:22am
Preliminary report shows promise, but we have more work to do.MSEA Executive Director David Helfman“MSEA’s priorities are determined by our members: increase educator pay, promote increased staffing levels, and prioritize support for schools with the greatest concentration of poverty.” — David Helfman

The Kirwan Commission has released its preliminary report, containing policy recommendations in five major areas. As MSEA’s appointed commissioner, I’ve spent 17 full days in commission meetings. I listened to more than 160 Marylanders testify at public hearings from the Eastern Shore to Frederick. I’ve read thousands of pages of reports, books, and drafts. I’ve been supported by staff who have compiled member input from more than 700 building meetings, analyzed policy research, and drafted amendments for consideration by the commission.

MSEA’s priorities are determined by our members: increase educator pay, promote increased staffing levels, and prioritize support for schools with the greatest concentration of poverty.

The commission was quick to realize the importance of boosting teacher salaries, raising standards for entry into university education programs, and providing more support for early educators.

Inside MSEA: Build Power, Get Stronger, Organize
How far will you go to ensure our students get what they need to succeed?mseanewsfeed.com

The commission has been slower to focus on education support professionals and develop recommendations targeted for them. But it must. Since 2007, the number of ESP in our schools has dropped by 6.9%, or nearly 2,000 positions. This has a direct, negative impact on the success of our students and schools.

Since the beginning, MSEA has shed light on the important role ESP play. While the preliminary report does not recommend policy changes pertaining to ESPs, it does acknowledge their critical role.

We’ve been successful in refocusing the commission’s work away from harmful policies and on ones that would truly help schools, such as by convincing the commission to shift away from using incentives to attract educators to high-poverty schools, moving to providing the supports, staffing standards, and resources necessary to enable educators and students to be successful. We’ll similarly keep pushing for more focus on ESP.

The commission’s hardest work lies ahead. During the next eight to twelve months it will work to cost out the policy proposals — as well as the needs of ESPs — and then determine priorities and phase-in schedules. Throughout, we’ll continue to fight for the needs of all of our members and students.

Inside MSEA: We’re at the Table with the Kirwan Commission was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

A Word from the Legal Team on BYOD School Policy

February 2, 2018 - 9:21am
Students, their devices, and policies that keep the peace.

Many public school systems have permitted students to bring their own devices and cell phones to school for use in the classroom. It’s a great way to maximize resources especially in cash-strapped districts.

But the headaches for educators may outweigh the benefit when there is no policy or one isn’t enforced. Every educator has experienced a student using their mobile phone to share academic and non-academic content, whether a more typically benign distraction or sometimes something as serious as pornography. The bottom line is that it’s up to educators to ensure that students’ use of mobile devices complies with existing policy.

Medical Cannabis and Your Job

Most policies prohibit students from taking photos or making recordings unless there is an authorized accommodation, but we all know videos of educators in the classroom appear regularly on social media — usually unflattering ones. When this happens, educators must rely on the administration to impose appropriate disciplinary consequences since there is no expectation of privacy in the classroom. In other words, it is not illegal for the student to video or audio record an educator, but it is a violation of school policy.

If your school or district doesn’t have a strong policy, it’s up to you to establish very clear rules and expectations regarding the use of mobile devices in the classroom, such as setting times when phones may be out and in use.

A word of caution: once you take possession of a student’s phone, you are financially responsible if it is lost or stolen. Better to send the student to the office where administration can hold the student’s phone for violation of the policy.

If you have questions about the use of mobile devices in your classroom, please contact your local UniServ director.

A Word from the Legal Team on BYOD School Policy was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Education Support Professionals — Your On-the-Job Rights and Benefits

February 2, 2018 - 9:16am
Possible Only Because of Your Collective Bargaining Agreement.

This is part three of a series about collective bargaining for Maryland educators. Read “Collective Bargaining — It Makes Your Contract Legally Binding” and “Bargaining Your Contract — Your Right and Duty.”

Your right to negotiate your work contract through your local education association is protected by law and only possible because the majority of your colleagues said “yes” to union representation. The protection of a contract means you are not subject to the changing tides of administrators and school boards or the personal grievances that may arise in the workplace.

To help you better understand just what contract rights are — and the importance of using your contract to protect your job and status — read this sample list and imagine if these rights and benefits would be possible if the decisions were left only to your employer.

Your agreement may include some or all of the items, or use different language to achieve the same or similar benefit. Your negotiations team studies the specific language in every contract to be sure it is enforceable and not ambiguous. In most cases, every local contract addresses these issues to the benefit of the employee.

Education Support Professionals — Your On-the-Job Rights and Benefits was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Teachers — Your On-the-Job Rights and Benefits

February 2, 2018 - 9:15am
Possible Only Because of Your Collective Bargaining Agreement.

This is part three of a series about collective bargaining for Maryland educators. Read “Collective Bargaining — It Makes Your Contract Legally Binding” and “Bargaining Your Contract — Your Right and Duty.”

The right to negotiate your work contract through your local education association is protected by law and only possible because the majority of your colleagues said “yes” to union representation. The protection of a contract means you are not subject to the changing tides of administrators and school boards or the personal grievances that may arise in the workplace.

To help you better understand just what contract rights are — and the importance of using your contract to protect your job and status — read this sample list and imagine if these rights and benefits would be possible if the decisions were left only to your employer.

Your agreement may include some or all of the items, or use different language to achieve the same or similar benefit. Your negotiations team studies the specific language in every contract to be sure it is enforceable and not ambiguous. In most cases, every local contract addresses these issues to the benefit of the employee.

Teachers — Your On-the-Job Rights and Benefits was originally published in MSEA Newsfeed on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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