Inside MSEA: We Must Be the Leaders Our Children Need

They’ve asked us to step up; we can’t let them down.

I was deeply moved by the Annapolis March for Our Lives organized by 16-year-old Mackenzie Boughey. Thousands of students, educators, and others rallied and then marched from the State House, filling Main Street down to City Dock. Across the country, students mobilized millions. They bravely showed the country the need for a sustained effort to change gun laws.

A month earlier, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez issued the call to action: “Students all over the country are going to be joining us because the adults have let us down. The people that we put into power — who should be working for us — have us working for them. And that’s pitiful; that’s pathetic.”

Over the last 18 months, we’ve been reaching out to members and asking what they and their schools need from the people in power. In addition to calls for improved compensation for all educators, we’ve heard about the need for community schools; reduced caseloads for counselors, nurses, and school psychologists; more instructional assistants; improved professional development and mentoring for early educators; and safe and nurturing learning environments.

Making Maryland the Best State for Public School Educators
The Kirwan Commission wants Maryland to be a leader in recruiting and retaining excellent

But legislators, county commissioners, and school board members are not jumping to fund these critical needs. MSDE consultants concluded that our public schools are underfunded by $2.9 billion annually to which Gov. Hogan responded by cutting $17.1 million in public school programs and shifting more money to private school vouchers. Then he claimed his legally mandated increase was historic.

When it comes to providing the resources our schools need, adults have let students and their communities down.

Let’s learn from those amazing young survivors. This won’t get done if we don’t do it.

We must vote for candidates who support public education in June and November. We must mobilize in far greater numbers when the legislature revises the school funding formula next year. We must be vigilant and hold accountable those who win in November.

Our elected leaders must lead by providing the funding our schools and students need and ensure that those funds are spent where they are most needed.

Our students need us to step up for them this year. We’re the adults; we must not let them down.