The coronavirus has changed everything, and it will have a major impact on how we advocate during the 2021 General Assembly session.
Average citizens and registered lobbyists alike will not be permitted to sit in galleries during floor debate or committee hearings. Testimony will be done virtually. Lobby visits will be done via online meeting platforms. Social distance will be strictly enforced, even among legislators. It will be a very different way of doing the people’s business in Annapolis.
But just because it will be different does not mean we lose the voice or impact of MSEA and our 75,000 members. In fact, I can’t think of a better group of people to use virtual tools to organize colleagues, find their collective voice, and tell their stories in a lobby meeting.
We know that the long-term path to building a strong economy and faster recovery for students from the traumas and challenges of this year is through increased investment in our schools and students. Contact your legislator here.
Your voice and your advocacy are more important than ever right now. The General Assembly is expected to take up Governor Hogan’s veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future in the first half of session. Your calls, emails, and virtual lobby meetings in December and January are critically important. Legislators need to know that the long-term funding equity goals promised by the Blueprint are the most significant thing Maryland can do to address the systemic challenges facing students who live in concentrated poverty, receive special education services, or are English language learners.
Overriding Gov. Hogan’s veto is crucial to delivering that more equitable funding—and to addressing the challenges that the pandemic has exacerbated for so many students, educators, and families. As we ask the General Assembly to override the veto, we must also push back on the more than $200 million in school funding cuts Gov. Hogan has already signaled he will propose. Now is the exact wrong time to cut the resources that students and educators need to stay safe and be successful.
Bold action requires bold advocacy. I have great faith that our members and staff will meet the challenges and deliver what our students and schools need for today and tomorrow.