Childhood Poverty Bill Released; Key Bills to Be Heard in Coming Days

And other legislative updates in this Week’s Up the Street

In Cambridge, Md., on Monday, MSEA President Cheryl Bost supported Gov. Wes Moore’s ENOUGH Act, legislation to end childhood poverty. (Photo: Governor’s Office)


MSEA Stands with Governor to Fight Childhood Poverty

In Dorchester County, where nearly 90% of public school students qualify for free and reduced price lunches, MSEA President Cheryl Bost joined Gov. Moore on Monday to promote his childhood poverty fighting legislation, the ENOUGH Act, Senate Bill 482/House Bill 694. The legislation provides $15 million in grants starting in fiscal year 2025 for communities that deploy multiple strategies to stop the cycles of poverty that have constrained generations of Marylanders. 

“We’re proud to stand in support of the ENOUGH Act and the Moore-Miller Administration’s continued focus on eradicating child poverty,” Bost said. “As educators, we know that poverty, particularly concentrated poverty, brings all types of challenges, traumas, and obstacles to success in the classroom. We’re excited to see the governor scale up the support needed around the state to address the cycle of generational poverty that burdens children, families, and communities.”

Hearings are set for HB694 in the House Appropriations Committee at 1 p.m. on February 28, and for SB482 at 9 a.m. on March 1 in the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee.

Hearings Set for Bill to Protect School Employees’ Jobs from Private Contractors

MSEA’s bill to prohibit public schools from hiring subcontractors for staff positions without strong oversight and employee protections, House Bill 1175, will have a hearing at 1 p.m. on February 28 in the House Ways and Means Committee. Sponsored by Del. Jessica Feldmark (D-Howard), HB1175 is the crossfile of Senate Bill 1043, sponsored by Sen. Dawn Gile (D-Anne Arundel). The legislation is needed to keep school jobs filled by educators in the schools, not outside contractors (see previous Up the Street coverage). The Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee will have a hearing on SB1043 at 1 p.m. on March 6. If passed, the law would take effect Oct. 1, 2024.

MSEA Advocates for Blueprint’s Extra Pay for Similarly Qualified Educators

On Wednesday in the House Ways and Committee, MSEA advocated for House Bill 789 to expand the career supports in the Blueprint that are designed to help with the recruitment and retention of highly qualified educators. HB789, sponsored by Del. Jessica Feldmark (D-Howard), the crossfile of Senate Bill 545, sponsored by Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel), expands the job positions that qualify for salary increases associated with earning a National Board certification and other advanced credentials (see previous Up the Street coverage). SB545 will have a hearing at 1 p.m. on February 28 in the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee.

Testimony for Aspiring Educator Stipends Emphasizes Hiring, Retention Benefits

An MSEA bill that builds on the governor’s 2023 Maryland Educator Shortage Reduction Act had a hearing Wednesday in the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee. Senate Bill 377, sponsored by Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery), the crossfile to House Bill 75, sponsored by Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County), would pay stipends to aspiring educators who begin their studies at any of the state’s community colleges, in addition to the stipends for aspiring educators at some community colleges and four-year colleges that were enabled by last year’s bill. Brad Phillips, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, told the committee that community colleges should be included as they reflect the communities that they serve and have the potential to diversify the field in the spirit of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. “This bill will do exactly what the Blueprint is trying to achieve…developing and retaining teachers,” he said.

Legislation to Protect Honest Education, Media Resources to Be Heard

The Freedom to Read Act, House Bill 785, sponsored by Del. Dana Jones (D-Anne Arundel), crossfiled as Senate Bill 738, sponsored by Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery), will have its first hearing at 1 p.m. next Wednesday in the House Ways and Means Committee. In this era of politically motivated book ban attempts, the legislation establishes fair, reasonable, and inclusive standards for library collections and employee treatment (see previous Up the Street coverage). SB738 will have a hearing in the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee at 9 a.m. on February 23.

Grow Your Own Teachers Bill Scheduled for Hearings in House, Senate

Also next Wednesday, grow your own educator legislation to establish programs to support education support professionals who want to become teachers will have a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee at 1 p.m. House Bill 1157, sponsored by Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery), is crossfiled as Senate Bill 937, sponsored by Sen. Malcolm Augustine (D-Prince George’s). SB937 will have a hearing at 1 p.m. on March 6 in the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee. This legislation has the potential to raise teacher numbers and combat the educator shortage while also diversifying the workforce.


National Survey Finds Departing Teachers Seeking Respect, Manageable Workloads

The latest National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report on educator attrition found that a majority of teachers who left the profession cited improvements in work-life balance (66%), work autonomy (60%), and workload and professional prestige (58%) in their new positions. The concerns underlie the ongoing efforts of MSEA and other education advocates to lift up the profession through better pay, working conditions, and respect for educators.


Polls Find Trone the Best Candidate to Face Hogan in Senate Race

Poll numbers show U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) is the most competitive Democrat in the race for the U.S. Senate seat from which Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is retiring this year. Since news broke Friday that Republican former Gov. Larry Hogan entered the race, changing his tune after years of avowing he had no interest in the Senate, an Emerson College poll found Trone to be by far the strongest candidate against Hogan. The poll saw Trone significantly out-perform Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in head-to-head match-ups against Hogan. In the poll, Alsobrooks finished 7 points behind the former governor, 44%-37%, and Trone and Hogan were statistically even at 42%. In a poll last fall concerning the same matchups, Trone came out 15 points ahead of Hogan, and Alsobrooks finished 6 points behind Hogan.

“Larry Hogan’s candidacy is nothing but a desperate attempt to return Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump to power and give them the deciding vote to ban abortion nationwide, suppress votes across the country, and give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans,” said Trone in a statement released on Friday. “His decision to join hands and walk lockstep with the patron saint of voter suppression, Mitch McConnell, and the special interests he serves in the Senate isn’t surprising, and Maryland voters won’t be fooled.”

This week Trone started running an advertisement featuring endorsements from Prince George’s County Councilmember Krystal Oriadha and former State Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery), the first Latina elected to the Maryland General Assembly. A complete list of Trone’s endorsements is here.

Filing Deadline Ends with Crowded Field in Open Race in 6th Congressional District

On Friday, Republican Neil Parrott officially entered the race for the 6th District for the third time, joining three other Republicans and 16 Democrats. Parrott was the GOP nominee for the district twice, losing to Trone by 20 points in 2020 and nine points in 2022, after redistricting increased Republican representation.