Maximizing the promise of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future
We said our kids can’t wait and now they don’t have to. The opportunities that the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future bring to public education are game-changing. It’s a $1.1 billion infusion of funding over the next three years that will impact students and schools for much longer.
Our 8,500-member March for Our Schools helped deliver that big win, but it will be the continued momentum of educator activism at the local level that makes sure we see those big changes in the ways that will do the most good for our schools. The proof in the pudding will be in contract negotiations and local bargaining that connects the opportunities of the Blueprint with the well-being of communities and schools.
We’re already seeing members building on the energy of our March 11 rally. Harford County educators are fighting back after the school system announced a cut of nearly 200 teacher and administration positions next year, bringing the total number of positions lost in the last decade to over 500. Chrystie Crawford-Smick, president of the Harford County Education Association, said her members are organizing the community and members for a Save Our Schools Rally on May 9 at the first of two public budget hearings.
“After 14 years of consistently downgrading our school funding, the community is starting to realize what a catastrophic issue we’re facing,” Crawford-Smick said. “We need the public and we’re counting on them.” — Chrystie Crawford-Smick, president of the Harford County Education Association
Crawford-Smick is holding 10-minute meetings around the county to make the connection between their funding needs, their contract, and the new Blueprint. A promising tentative agreement includes a 3% increase and counts on the Blueprint bill to add another 1.5% raise, bringing it to a 4.5% pay hike. But Crawford-Smick and HCEA members know that the issues go beyond pay — and without the community shining a light on inequitable per pupil funding and increasing class sizes, schools will continue the years-long struggle.
“That’s why we are working to shut down the town of Bel Air with the citizens and educators of Harford County,” Crawford-Smick said. “We organized 200 members for the March for Our Schools. We hope to more than triple that number on May 9.”
In Garrett County, where the Blueprint will bring in more than $1 million in new funding, members turned out in red for a recent board of education budget meeting. Their message? We did our part by fighting for the funding in the Blueprint. Now it’s time to do yours.
“Our members want local politicians to act on the opportunity of the Blueprint. We need those promised resources for special ed and mental health. We have seen little or no salary increases for some time and the Blueprint is a chance to change that, too.” — Stephanie Lewis, vice president of the Garrett County Education Association.
The Prince George’s County Educators’ Association is adopting a new style of bargaining by welcoming the public to their open bargaining sessions. They’ve held sessions filled with educators, administration officials, and the public to share, listen, and respond to educators and communities.
“This open and transparent style of bargaining — bargaining for the common good — is our way to reclaim our schools,” said Theresa Dudley, PGCEA president. “We’re negotiating for great places for our children to learn in, fair compensation, healthy learning environments, smaller class sizes, more restorative practices, less testing, and sensible workloads and evaluations.”