And other legislative updates in MSEA’s Up the Street
On Wednesday, Gov. Hogan expanded his school privatization agenda when he sent out a press release announcing legislation to radically reform how charter schools operate in Maryland. His release named several bad ideas:
· Creating the Maryland Public Charter School Authority, an independent public charter school authorizer
· Exempting charter schools from certain aspects of local laws
· Sending state investments directly to charter schools, cutting out school districts in the allocation process
We expect the legislation to be public sometime next week, and to include provisions that weaken collective bargaining and teacher certification requirements at charter schools. The Washington Post covered the story and included a statement from MSEA saying, “Gov. Hogan’s proposal amounts to an open invitation to for-profit entities to set up shop in Maryland and make money off our kids’ education. His proposal to create an independent authorizing board for charter schools would lead to the same school privatization and fraud we have seen in other states.”
Gov. Hogan’s press release also lied by stating that charter schools get less per pupil funding than traditional public schools. The reverse is true. We now know that from an American Institutes for Research report that shows in all but three of the state’s 50 charter schools, students receive more funding that they would in traditional public schools. You can read more about the latest Hogan “alternative fact” in MSEA Newsfeed.
President Betty Weller led an MSEA panel discussion with House Ways and Means this week, giving educators a prime role in legislative action as we head into February. Our group stressed priorities on increasing funding, stopping privatization, reducing testing, closing opportunity gaps, strengthening educator voice, and supporting pro-worker economic policies. This session, educators will be pursuing a comprehensive legislative agenda, called Protect Our Schools, that will:
· Ensure full funding for K-12 education as required by law for FY2018 and future years
· Expand opportunity and prevent privatization in Maryland’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act
· Limit all mandated standardized testing to 2% of instructional time
· Protect accountability measures, collective bargaining, and local control in Maryland’s charter school law
To see MSEA’s full legislative priorities for the 2017 General Assembly session, click here.
Two of MSEA’s priorities were officially introduced as bills this week, including the Less Testing, More Learning Act of 2017, which would limit all federal, state, and district mandated standardized testing to 2% of the school year (HB 461). The bill — which will be sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery-District 14) and Sen. Roger Manno (D-Montgomery-District 19) — passed the House of Delegates unanimously last year, but stalled in the Senate. This year, we have 32 co-sponsors for the bill in the Senate, well more than a majority of the chamber.
Legislation to put a moratorium on suspensions in grades pre-K through 2 (HB 425) — sponsored by Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City-District 46) and Sen. Will Smith (D-Montgomery-District 20) — was also introduced this week. MSEA delegates passed a new business item during the 2016 Representative Assembly supporting a ban on suspensions in pre-K and kindergarten grades, so we will pursue that outcome during the legislative session.
This week’s Monday night rally in Annapolis focused on finally winning earned sick leave legislation to guarantee sick days for nearly all working Marylanders. As part of the Working Matters coalition, MSEA President Betty Weller gave a passionate speech to a packed room in the House Office Building, saying, “If Annapolis compromises on a watered down earned sick leave bill this year, that means Marylanders have to compromise on their health care for years to come. Governor, we can — and we will — do better than that.”
On Monday, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin announced his opposition to Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, writing on Facebook, “It would be especially wrong to support a nominee who wants to funnel money from public schools to charter schools while our nation’s public school teachers are regularly investing their own money from their own pockets in our students, in an attempt to bridge funding gaps.”
Cardin joins his new Maryland colleague in the Senate, Chris Van Hollen, in opposing DeVos’ confirmation. Last week, Van Hollen became one of the first senators to publicly oppose the billionaire school privatization advocate, writing on Facebook, “I do not believe that she has the experience necessary to manage such a vital agency or the demonstrated commitment to equal access to a high-quality education for every child.”
We are very lucky to have such committed defenders of public education in the Senate. Elections matter.
This week, Del. Eric Luedtke — a former Montgomery County teacher — was named the new Ways and Means Education Subcommittee Chair by House Speaker Mike Busch (D-Anne Arundel-District 30A). In past decades, legislators in Washington, D.C. and all across the country have made a lot of bad education policy because they never consulted the teachers and support professionals in our schools. That’s why the decision to put someone with real teaching experience in charge of crafting education policy is a huge deal. We welcome Del. Luedtke to his position and look forward to working with him. You can read more about how he views his role in MSEA Newsfeed.
The Washington Post reports that five potential candidates for governor in 2018 posted cash on hand numbers: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Delegate Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City-District 43), Congressman John Delaney, and former Attorney General and 2014 candidate Doug Gansler. Kamenetz leads the pack with $1.6 million, Baker has $250,000, McIntosh has $125,000, and Gansler has $32,000. Delaney can only use $6,000 from his federal campaign account, but would likely self-finance if he decides to run.
Unsure how to stand up to Donald Trump, Larry Hogan, Betsy DeVos, and the rest of the anti-public education officials in power? Start by donating as much as you can to the MSEA Fund for Children and Public Education. It’s the only way we can raise our voices to compete with the corporate interests trying to privatize our public schools.