Betty Weller: We Should All Be Proud

Our big wins are good for students, schools, and communities

Betty Weller, MSEA President

What a great General Assembly session! First, we passed the Protect Our Schools Act that gives Maryland a school accountability system that truly invests in and improves our schools by placing less emphasis on standardized testing and broadening the focus of what’s needed to create a great school — closing opportunity gaps, increasing equity, and creating a supportive, safe school climate. The legislation prevents the state from using federal Title I funding meant for high-poverty schools for private school vouchers, forcing public schools to be converted to charter schools, or taking over public schools and handing them over to private operators — the exact agenda Governor Hogan favors and that aligns so closely with that of Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The bill ensures that educators and parents have a seat and voice at the table when developing plans to improve low-performing schools. Good ideas are generated when communities come together for a greater good, not from top-down dictums that don’t reflect specific experience or interest in our communities.

Not only did we pass the Protect Our Schools Act, we overrode Gov. Hogan’s veto of it. Maryland is now leading the fight to protect public education from the destructive DeVos privatization agenda.

Legislators heard us on the issue of over-testing our students, too. It took two years of fighting, but on the last day of session legislators passed the More Learning, Less Testing Act that sets a limit on the amount of annual mandated and standardized testing. We’re now able to reduce the burden of testing and shift the focus back to where it belongs — on creating school atmospheres of curiosity, discovery, and joy for both students and educators.

This exciting and successful General Assembly session shows us what we can accomplish when we speak with a united voice for our students and schools. Thanks for everything you do and congratulations!