Educator-Recommended Candidates Sweep Primaries, Work for November Wins

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

Across the state, educators handed out Apple Ballots to help pro-public education candidates win primary races. (Photo: Montgomery County Education Association)


Educators’ Recommended Candidates Win Primary Races

More than 90% of educator-recommended candidates emerged victorious in the May primary races at all levels of government, giving educators an excellent opportunity to see champions for schools and students hold elected office at many different levels. For the always important board of education races, educator-recommended candidates won 97% of their races (28 of 29 races), a testament to the power of our endorsement. Beyond board of education, recommended candidates in Cecil County swept races for county executive and county council, headlined by successfully unseating the current county executive. MSEA’s endorsements proved to be significant and game-changing up and down the primary ballot.

Looking at open congressional races, in the state’s 2nd District, former educator and former MSEA member Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. (D) swept to victory. In the 3rd District, State Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) also won convincingly in a competitive primary race.

MSEA members knocked on doors, hosted meet-and-greet events, sent letters and thousands of text messages to encourage voting, and, on Election Day, filled precinct shifts at polls to distribute Apple Ballots identifying pro-public education candidates.

Educators will remain highly engaged in the general election and will also restart endorsement processes in the very few races in which the educator-recommended candidate did not make it across the finish line. remains the one-stop-shop to learn of educator-recommended candidates across the state.

Stakeholders Convene to Improve ESP Working Conditions

The inaugural meeting of the MSEA-convened Education Support Professional (ESP) Workgroup occurred Wednesday, to execute their mission to examine how to standardize job classifications, set a living wage, and determine in what ways legislative action could help advance the ESP Bill of Rights. The workgroup responds to the new business item introduced at the MSEA 2023 Fall Representative Assembly (RA). Workgroup membership includes MSEA, AFSCME Council 3, ACE-AFSCME 2250, the Baltimore Teachers Union, SEIU Local 500, and AFT-Maryland. The group will produce a report on its findings and recommendations by September 1.


Blueprint Workgroup on Special Education Explores Prospective Improvements

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Special Education Workgroup will issue an interim report July 1 on the state and needs of special education statewide. Among the group’s 47 members, two MSEA members make sure educator voices are heard: Betsy Perry, an elementary special education with Montgomery County Public Schools, and Alletha Trageser, a high school special education teacher with Carroll County Public Schools. A final report with recommendations is due to the governor December 1. In response to the presentation from the workgroup to the State Board of Education (SBOE), at their May 21 meeting, MSEA President Cheryl Bost asked for more specificity in their recommendations, which should include the creation of a universal form for individualized education plans (IEPs) that all districts use. IEP documentation contributes to the workload driving special educators from the profession, she said.

State Addresses Shortfall in Educator Workforce Diversity

Maryland State Superintendent Carey Wright reported to the SBOE that the K-12 educator workforce is still 68% white despite some success increasing minority representation. She resolved that filling educator positions with people who better reflect the student population will take a “conscious effort.” A majority of Maryland’s students, 58%, are students of color: 34% are white; 30% Black; 21% Latino; and 7% Asian. “When you have a diverse teaching force, it helps students of color see themselves. It also helps all students,” MSEA President Cheryl Bost said in a Maryland Matters story covering the release of the data. More data reported out by MSDE can be found here.

The Maryland Educator Shortage Reduction Act of 2023, and this year’s legislation to support Grow Your Own programs and new pathways into the education profession, bolster the Blueprint goal to diversify and retain educators. The Educator Shortage Reduction Act required the department to establish a dashboard that tracks educator recruitment, retention, and diversity. By January 1, data from the dashboard should be publicly available.

State Support Offered to Paraeducators Learning Science of Reading

Having required all schools to implement the science of reading program next school year, MSDE has a $350,000 grant to help some 30,000 educators train in the program. The money will pay for space, stipends, and other program costs. It is part of a $6.8 million four-year grant from the nonprofit Ibis Group of Washington, D.C. The bulk of the grant, $5.3 million, goes to the State University of New York (SUNY) and the AIM Institute for Learning and Research of Conshohocken, PA. MSDE and Johns Hopkins University will receive $1.5 million to research educator efficacy, educator background knowledge, and literacy leadership development. The funding will provide educators, paraprofessionals, and administrators with free access to microcredential continuing education units (CEUs) from SUNY, New Paltz and the AIM Institute for Learning and Research. The SUNY New Paltz program aims to reach 27,500 participants: 22,000 elementary teachers; 4,000 middle and high school teachers and administrators; and 1,500 paraprofessionals to support district Grow-Your-Own initiatives. The AIM program will be available for up to 6,000 school administrators and school district literacy supervisors.

MSEA Priorities Address Education Profession Shortcomings Found by Pew Survey

A Pew Research Center survey about teacher job satisfaction, workload, and challenges validates MSEA’s work to improve workplace conditions, increase staffing and pay, reduce poverty, support mental health, and bolster respect for educators. Pew’s survey found that a majority of K-12 public school teachers in the U.S. would not recommend the profession, though 71% plan to stay. Key takeaways include:

Underfunded schools and poverty underpin the conditions that caused surveyed educators’ despair. Addressing these issues through long-term funding commitments to the Blueprint and ensuring that the voices of educators are heard in policymaking decisions that can improve their professional lives and opportunities and support for our students can enable students and educators to thrive.

State Economy, Management Earn Fitch’s Highest Credit Rating of AAA

Maryland’s economic health and fiscal management earned the highest possible bond rating, AAA, from Fitch Ratings as the state planned to issue $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds. Proceeds will finance school, university, and healthcare facility improvements and other capital projects approved by the Board of Public Works. Maryland is one of just 14 states with the highest possible rating from Fitch, S&P Global, and Moody’s, the three rating agencies of note for state borrowers.

First Quarter Casino, Sports Wagering Revenues Add $167 Million to Education Funds

Casino revenues combined for January through March contributed $149.71 million to the Education Trust Fund (ETF), according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming. Maryland’s sports betting from January through March contributed $17.3 million to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. The fund supports public education programs. Each sportsbook pays 15% of its taxable win to the fund.

Del. Sarah Love Tapped to Fill District 16 Senate Vacancy

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee has nominated Del. Sarah Love (D-Montgomery)  to fill the District 16 Senate seat left vacant by Ariana Kelly (D). Kelly resigned to lead the Maryland Commission for Women. The nomination is with Gov. Moore for his action.