Educators played a central role in the 2015 Maryland General Assembly session, leading the fight to continue a strong state commitment to public schools, defending accountability and quality in Maryland’s charter school law, preventing a discriminatory and unaccountable voucher scheme, and taking a significant step forward in increasing time to learn and reducing standardized testing. These successes stood in stark contrast with Gov. Hogan’s misguided attempts to destabilize public education and promote failed ideas for our education system.
“Public education came under assault this legislative session, but between incredible educator and parent engagement and pro-public education champions in the General Assembly, we were able to pass a budget that continues a strong commitment to public education,” said MSEA President Betty Weller. “Crucial funding is now available for our schools—all Gov. Hogan needs to do is fund it. He can do the right thing for our schools, or he can willingly make things harder for our students to succeed. There is no justification for blocking this funding when the money is already accounted for in a balanced budget. We call on Gov. Hogan to immediately release this nearly $70 million in school funding that our students need.”
From the minute Gov. Hogan proposed his backwards education agenda—$144 million in school funding cuts, a standards-lowering charter school bill that would have welcomed uncertified teachers to classrooms, and $30 million of public dollars for a private school tax credit program that would have subsidized LGBT discrimination—educators pushed back with a positive vision for truly effective education policies. Mobilization efforts included a petition drive and radio advertising campaign, the heavily visited DontShortchangeMaryland.com advocacy website, community meetings in ten counties with members and neighborhood leaders, and regular tele-townhalls to encourage communications between educators and lawmakers. As a result, 103,356 emails were sent and 1,605 calls were made to legislators and the governor—both record levels of activism.
“As education experts who see firsthand—day after day—what we need to deliver high quality education to every child, we advanced a successful vision of opportunity that will only gain more support over the coming years,” said Weller.
This strong educator engagement could not have been any more different than Gov. Hogan’s lack of leadership on education policy. He failed to testify on either of his education bills—charter schools and private school tax credits—and refused to meet with public educators on these or any other education issue.
Educators will continue to drive policies that truly help all students improve in the classroom and beyond. This year’s successes include:
“We appreciate the hard work of Speaker Busch, President Miller, and pro-public education legislators over the last 90 days and look forward to continuing to work together to support our world class public schools,” said Weller.