Educator Pathways Bill Passes, More Bills on Track

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

MSEA President Cheryl Bost explains the Freedom to Read act during an interview with WJLA-TV.


As legislators consider emergency legislation to support port workers impacted by the Key Bridge tragedy, Up the Street readers can click here to make a donation to the Baltimore Immigrant Community Fund Key Bridge Emergency Response to support the families of the victims and the survivors of the accident.

On track to be a big win, the Freedom to Read Act, House Bill 785, passed with amendments Friday in the Senate, sending the bill back to the House for final review in its original chamber. The Senate crossfile of the bill, Senate Bill 738, passed second reader in the House on Monday. This law would make Maryland among the first states to protect against politicized attacks from right-wing activists around the state who try to ban books and make it more difficult for readers and students who seek to study honest and accurate history.

Conference Committee Struggles with Fiscal Year 2025 $63 Billion Budget

With the disaster at the Key Bridge adding further uncertainty to the state’s fiscal future, House and Senate conferees were unable to finalize the fiscal year 2025 budget plan in time for the General Assembly to pass a budget by their April 1 deadline. The legislative session will end on April 8, but Gov. Moore granted a 10-day extension in the event that a budget has not been passed by then. The joint conference committee continues to work out differences between the Senate and House versions of the $63 billion budget, Senate Bill 360/House Bill 350, and the Budget Reconciliation Finance Act (BRFA), Senate Bill 362/House Bill, 352. The financial emergency created by the Key Bridge collapse compounded the difficulties conferees have deciding when to raise revenues to ensure that Maryland can keep its commitments to our schools, communities, and important services.

MSEA’s Bill Passes to Open Pathways into Education Profession, with Focus on Quality

MSEA’s priority to expand pathways for educators to enter the profession, House Bill 945, is ready for the governor’s signature into law after passing the Senate on Thursday. This legislation directly addresses the educator shortage and supports the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Pillar II. The crossfile, Senate Bill 771, became identical through amendment and is on third reader in the House. This expands the pathways available to aspiring educators while keeping standards high (see previous Up the Street coverage). Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City and County) sponsored the respective House and Senate bills.

Stipend Expansions Would Support Aspiring Educators

Senate Bill 377, legislation that would expand stipend eligibility to aspiring educators who begin their studies at any state community college is on third reading in the House. SB377 and the crossfile, House Bill 75, build on last year’s bill for aspiring educators that established stipends for students at just some community colleges and four-year colleges. Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery) sponsors SB377, and Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore County), sponsors the crossfile.

Pre-K Credential Law Would Recognize Long-term Providers’ Experience

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard) testified Wednesday in the Senate Education, Energy and the Environment Committee for her House Bill 1441, and welcomed MSEA’s support for this strategy to expand pre-k as envisioned by the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

It would amend Maryland law that currently requires pre-k paraeducators/teaching assistants to have either a child development associate (CDA) or an associate’s degree (AA) by the 2027-2028 school year. Recognizing the importance of retaining and supporting highly experienced educators, HB1441 would exempt pre-k paraeducators in public programs from the CDA/AA requirement if they have at least 15 years of experience in early childhood education by the 2027-2028 school year. To ask your senator to support HB1441 use this link.


Biden Gets $79.1 Billion for Education, Despite Republican Proposal to Cut 30% from Schools

In the fiscal year 2024 budget that Congress finalized March 23 and President Biden signed, the president and Congressional Democrats prevented Republicans in Congress from gutting the education budget while keeping within the parameters of the earlier agreed upon debt ceiling negotiations. Approximately $200 million less than FY23, the FY24 $79.1 billion education budget is $22 billion more than Republicans proposed, and it supports the commitment to give all students opportunities to pursue their dreams. Although it is nearly level funding with FY23, the FY24 education budget includes a $14 million increase in special education, and $20 million more for Title I, which Republicans proposed cutting by 80%.

Biden Administration Cancels Student Debt for Additional 78,000 Public Service Workers

Despite Congressional Republican and federal court roadblocks, the Biden-Harris Administration continues to deliver on a student debt forgiveness promise. On March 21, Biden announced an additional 78,000 student loan borrowers, like educators, who work in the public sector, will have their student loan debt forgiven,


In Congressional Races, Elfreth, Olszewski, Vogel Garner NEA’s Powerful Endorsement

Bringing with it the clout of 3 million members, NEA is recommending three candidates running in Maryland’s open Congressional districts: Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) in the 3rd, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (D) in the 2nd, and Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery) in the 6th. NEA’s action follows recommendations from the MSEA Board of Directors after an inclusive candidate vetting process that requires answering a thorough questionnaire and interviews with local educators in each Congressional district.

“Sarah Elfreth, Johnny Olszewski and Joe Vogel are proven champions for America’s students and Maryland’s working families. They know how critical it is to ensure that every student—no matter their race, place, or background—has access to quality public schools,” NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement. “In a time when some extreme politicians are focused on banning books and taking away learning opportunities for students, these leaders have partnered with parents and educators to ensure students can get the one-on-one support they need, keep students and educators safe from gun violence, expand school-based mental health programs, and address educator shortages.”

With NEA’s and MSEA’s recommendation, candidates earn a place on MSEA’s influential Apple Ballot voter guide, which informs voters before elections and at the polls about candidates who have educators’ support. NEA, MSEA and members have historically conducted successful voter outreach and education that reach millions of Maryland families and makes a difference in consequential elections.

In Support of Women’s Health, Economic Freedom, Elfreth TV Ad Goes Live

Centering on protecting women’s reproductive health options and economic opportunities, Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) launched her first TV ad in her race for the 3rd Congressional district.

Prince George’s Delegation Members Endorse David Trone for Senate

This week in the Democratic primary race for U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) received the endorsement of Prince George’s County delegation members, including state Health and Government Operations Committee Chair Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D), and Dels. Mary Lehman (D), Ashanti Martinez (D), and Deni Taveras (D), as well as other local elected leaders. A complete list of Trone’s endorsements is on his campaign website.