Preliminary report shows promise, but we have more work to do.
“MSEA’s priorities are determined by our members: increase educator pay, promote increased staffing levels, and prioritize support for schools with the greatest concentration of poverty.” — David Helfman
The Kirwan Commission has released its preliminary report, containing policy recommendations in five major areas. As MSEA’s appointed commissioner, I’ve spent 17 full days in commission meetings. I listened to more than 160 Marylanders testify at public hearings from the Eastern Shore to Frederick. I’ve read thousands of pages of reports, books, and drafts. I’ve been supported by staff who have compiled member input from more than 700 building meetings, analyzed policy research, and drafted amendments for consideration by the commission.
MSEA’s priorities are determined by our members: increase educator pay, promote increased staffing levels, and prioritize support for schools with the greatest concentration of poverty.
The commission was quick to realize the importance of boosting teacher salaries, raising standards for entry into university education programs, and providing more support for early educators.
The commission has been slower to focus on education support professionals and develop recommendations targeted for them. But it must. Since 2007, the number of ESP in our schools has dropped by 6.9%, or nearly 2,000 positions. This has a direct, negative impact on the success of our students and schools.
Since the beginning, MSEA has shed light on the important role ESP play. While the preliminary report does not recommend policy changes pertaining to ESPs, it does acknowledge their critical role.
We’ve been successful in refocusing the commission’s work away from harmful policies and on ones that would truly help schools, such as by convincing the commission to shift away from using incentives to attract educators to high-poverty schools, moving to providing the supports, staffing standards, and resources necessary to enable educators and students to be successful. We’ll similarly keep pushing for more focus on ESP.
The commission’s hardest work lies ahead. During the next eight to twelve months it will work to cost out the policy proposals — as well as the needs of ESPs — and then determine priorities and phase-in schedules. Throughout, we’ll continue to fight for the needs of all of our members and students.