Betty Weller: We’re Leading on Issues That Matter

We must help students and educators who face challenging circumstances.

Betty Weller, MSEA President

As our students return to classrooms this year, many did so with challenging concerns. Are they confused, frustrated, or outraged by what they watched on TV just a few hours’ drive away in Charlottesville? Do they experience trauma at home with no the support to process and overcome their experiences?

As educators, we can’t have all the answers. We often struggle with our role — our professional responsibility and capacity versus our humanity. But I believe strongly that it is our responsibility to answer when asked — to greet our vulnerable students with an open heart. We can help them rethink their identity, one that respects their value and potential as a student and as a contributing member of their community.

What else can we do? As your representative, MSEA is leading in a number of important areas that will ultimately affect students and your job. Over the summer, MSEA formed a Coalition for Equity including the Maryland State Department of Education, the NAACP of Maryland, the Greater Baltimore Urban League, Casa de Maryland, the Maryland PTA, the ACLU of Maryland, and others, including the associations representing Maryland’s school boards and superintendents. We are fighting for equity and having challenging conversations together — creating policies that match the times we face.

Through the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, Maryland is set to rewrite its school funding formula to address the nearly $3 billion in annual under-funding of our schools. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve working and learning conditions and equity — if we lead and speak up.

Beyond the big picture, we’re focused on what we can do now to help the students and educators who face challenging circumstances. For example, there are new approaches to trauma-informed education, and MSEA means to be a leader in them.

I’m convinced that we all can play a role in this work and make a difference for our students.