MSEA Executive Director David Helfman reflects on a momentous time for Maryland and the world
We knew this could be a historic year. And we did make history by passing a brand-new funding formula, a huge victory powered by years of member activism.
But like so much else, that landmark achievement will be overshadowed by an event which will unfortunately find its way into history books across the world: the corona- virus pandemic.
Over the past month, as the virus swept through our nation and public schools were shut down, our efforts have rapidly shifted from winning a transformative new funding formula to protecting and informing our members. At the national level, NEA lobbyists pressed hard to provide relief from standardized testing mandates and new resources for school systems to feed students and protect educator jobs. Their efforts continue as Congress considers its fourth relief package.
At the state level, MSEA has pulled together a variety of resources and strategies to inform you about school safety issues, distance learning strategies, and job protection. We have had more than 15,000 participants on our statewide teletown halls; we’ve also directly responded to hundreds of member questions. We launched a weekly Facebook Live “Learn More at 4” on Wednesdays where President Cheryl Bost and General Counsel Kristy Anderson provide the latest updates and answer more of your questions. And our website features a comprehensive and continually updated coronavirus section with FAQs — frequently asked questions — including ones focused on educational support professionals, special education, certification issues, taking leave, and much more. When we haven’t had answers, we’ve pressed the state department to release the information and guidance you need to do your job. As we navigate these uncertain times, you deserve the best and most comprehensive information possible about your job, and MSEA is committed to getting you the answers and support that you need.
President Bost talks about the perseverance of our members. Your MSEA staff has also persevered, quickly ramping up the use of online tools and staying connected with colleagues across the state and around the country. I’m incredibly proud of the work they’ve done to support you during this time of great need.