And other legislative updates in this month’s Up the Street
The 2024 General Assembly opens January 10, and MSEA is prepared to advocate for key priorities that members have identified. Key priorities include maintaining strong funding levels for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and students, educators, and schools throughout the state; the development of a sustainable statewide grow-your-own (GYO) educator program to address the chronic staffing shortages and diversify the profession; removing culturally and racially biased tests from the required assessments that aspiring educators have to pass to join the profession; and protecting students and library and media specialists from book bans and discriminatory and exclusionary policies.
As the legislative session begins, Up the Street and MSEA will spotlight critical issues on our legislative agenda and for educators. In this edition, we are highlighting our priority around expanding GYO efforts.
GYO programs are working in states like California, Tennessee, and Washington. In Maryland, grow-your-own programs in Howard, St. Mary’s, and Washington counties, among other jurisdictions, have created a path for education support professionals (ESPs) who want to become certified educators. The Blueprint emphasizes the importance of a diverse workforce, and research finds that ESPs tend to reflect the diversity of students, are well-equipped to become highly effective teachers, and that those who become certified remain in the classroom longer than traditionally prepared teachers. A grow-your-own program has the potential to reinforce the drained educator pipeline and give ESPs who are interested in making the transition to teaching a more streamlined and supported way to do so.
One of MSEA’s 2021 legislative victories is coming to fruition as faculty at Harford and Wor-Wic Community Colleges have made MSEA their bargaining agent. The expansion of representation for community college faculty fulfills a longstanding goal that MSEA fought for years to achieve. Community college faculty obtained the right to organize after MSEA and labor allies advocated for legislation, Senate Bill 746/House Bill 894, that took effect a year ago. Unionized faculty are strengthening their ability to negotiate their working conditions and the classroom environment that they and students share.
A new fellowship program in social work is paying student tuition and some living expenses to help grow and diversify professional social workers in Maryland’s K-12 public schools. The fellowship program is being offered jointly this academic year by the schools of social work at the University of Maryland in Baltimore and Baltimore County and Coppin State University. Currently, there are 21 students. The program will enroll 105 fellows over its five-year funding period, supported by a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Fellows in the program will receive a $1,000 monthly stipend while attending university classes, a modest clothing allowance, paid exam fees, and $15,000 in tuition.
Casino and sports betting combined contributed more than $54 million to education in October, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming. Maryland’s six casinos combined to generate $159.8 million in revenue from slot machines and table games during October 2023, down $53.1 million (-24.9%) compared to October 2022, when the casinos set a single-month revenue record. Contributions to the Education Trust Fund in October totaled $48.4 million, a decrease of $9.8 million (-16.9 %) compared to October 2022.
While casino revenues were down, Maryland’s sports betting market had the best month in its history in October, with the 13 retail and 12 mobile sportsbooks combining to generate $5.8 million in contributions to the state. Each sportsbook pays 15% of its taxable win to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, with a total contribution of $14.9 million in the first four months of the fiscal year.
Ten Maryland school districts are suing the big social media publishers for the alleged harm their platforms do to students’ behavioral health, and the classroom disruption they cause. The school systems of Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Talbot counties have joined to sue Google, Meta, ByteDance, and Snap Inc. The lawsuit accused several social media platforms of targeting and manipulating youth so they stay engaged for excessive amounts of time.
U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) officially received the National Education Association (NEA) recommendation on November 20 to fill the seat from which U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) will retire next year. In October, the MSEA Representative Assembly (RA) voted to recommend Trone to NEA. Since this is a federal race, NEA’s PAC Council had to take further action to officially make the recommendation. Celebrating the value and meaning of a recommendation from 75,000 MSEA members and 3 million NEA members, the Trone campaign launched ads featuring educators soon after the endorsement announcement.
“David Trone is a proven champion for America’s students and Maryland’s working families,” NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement. “In a time when some extreme politicians are focused on banning books and taking away learning opportunities for students, David Trone has partnered with parents and educators to ensure students can get the one-on-one support they need, keep students and educators safe from gun violence, expand school-based mental health programs, and address educator shortages.”
Among other recent endorsements for Trone is one from U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2nd).
New candidates joined the field this month for the U.S. House 3rd District from which U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D) is retiring next year. Entrants to the race in recent days include Senator Clarence Lam (D-Howard) and Delegate Mike Rogers (D-Anne Arundel).
In the race to fill Trone’s 6th District seat, Frederick County Board of Education member Jason Johnson launched an independent bid in early November, adding his name to a crowded field. In terms of fundraising, Delegate Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery) has raised nearly $253,000 and leads in fundraising among Democrats. Veteran Geoffrey Grammer, Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, and Delegate Lesley Lopez (D-Montgomery) all reported raising over $100,000 with several other Democrats raising funds below that amount.
The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee picked MSEA recommended candidate Delegate Nick Charles (D-Prince George’s) to fill the Senate seat formerly held by Melony Griffith (D-Prince George’s), who resigned in October to become president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association. The committee forwarded Charles’ name to Gov. Moore for appointment, and the committee will have to appoint someone to fill Charles’ House seat.