MSEA’s Week of Action Leads to Major Progress

Bills on over-testing and privatization advance thanks to educator activism

Educators had a big week last week — with substantial levels of activism leading to significant steps in the right direction on the Protect Our Schools Act, the Less Testing, More Learning Act, and turning back Gov. Hogan’s private school vouchers program.

Here’s the recap:

Nearly 500 educators joined the March to Protect Our Schools in Annapolis on Monday

Photos © Stephen Cherry

Including NEA President Lily Eskelsen García…

I'm marching so students have time to learn and so ALL students have access to great public schools. #protectmdschools @MSEAeducators

— Lily Eskelsen García (@Lily_NEA) March 13, 2017

And public education champions like Senator Roger Manno and Delegate Eric Luedtke.

Got a chance to thank educators for their work and advocacy w @RogerManno at the @MSEAeducators Protect Our Schools rally.

— Delegate Eric Luedtke (@EricLuedtke) March 13, 2017

We're ready to meet with legislators…hundreds of us! #ProtectMDSchools

— Maryland Educators (@MSEAeducators) March 13, 2017

700+ phone calls to legislators

The calls came in all week long! On March 15, the MSEA legislative hotline hit its highest daily total of calls since 2012.

I called Robert Cassilly and left my message with the very nice receptionist.

— Ms. Gaddy (@HisGaddystory) March 14, 2017

Shoveling done-time to call my MD senator! #ProtectMDSchools @mceanea @MSEAeducators

— Jennifer Martin (@JMartinMCEA) March 14, 2017

4,000+ emails to legislators

The outpouring of emails ran the gamut from calling on legislators to pass the Protect Our Schools Act, stop Governor Hogan’s vouchers plan, and pass the Less Testing, More Learning Act.

100+ tweets to legislators

.@DelegateAJones: Schools & students are counting on you. Please support the Protect Our Schools Act (HB 978/SB 871). #protectMDschools

— Annette C. Welling (@acwelling) March 17, 2017

@JheanelleW @Willcsmithjr @DavidMoon2014 This teacher is happy to hear about HB978/SB871. Thanks for support! #ProtectMDschools

— Ellen Daniels (@LNDan5) March 17, 2017

And while our Wear Red for Public Ed day on Tuesday got snowed out, educators were still shoveling and bundled up in their red.

ACEA President John Reuschlein rocking red for public ed! #ProtectMDSchools @MSEAeducators

— UniServ Evan West (@UniservEvan) March 14, 2017

Day 2-Wearing #redforpubliced & urging the MD Senate to #protectMDschools and restore our students' authentic learning time! @MSEAeducators

— Carissa Barnes Harper,M.Ed. (@ResourceShark) March 14, 2017

May be a snow day, but still a day to support public education! #ProtectMDSchools

— Jennie Merrill (@JennieLou811) March 14, 2017

Some even started early!

SHES staff planned ahead and wore red before our snow day! #ProtectMDSchools @mceanea @MSEAeducators

— Heather Ruth Hunter (@ruthheat) March 14, 2017

Here’s What We Achieved Because of Educators’ Activism

There was some real payoff to all that activism, too. Here’s what happened last week:

  1. The Protect Our Schools Act received a favorable vote in the Senate’s Education Subcommittee late Friday night. It will be voted on in the full Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee (and hopefully the full Senate) later this week, so keep those emails on it coming!
  2. The More Learning, Less Testing Act, which sets a cap on the amount of annual mandated standardized testing, passed the Senate unanimously (46–0). The House passed the bill a few weeks ago; now differences between the two chambers need to be reconciled before the bill can become law. We’re almost there!

#MDSenate just passed my #LessTestingMoreLearning to limit onerous testing! #ProtectOurSchools @Lily_NEA @BettyWeller #MDGA17 #MDpolitics

— Roger Manno (@RogerManno) March 16, 2017

Great work @RogerManno! Both house have passed now and we just need to work out differences.

— Delegate Eric Luedtke (@EricLuedtke) March 16, 2017
  1. The House cut Gov. Hogan’s private school vouchers program by more two-thirds, sending that funding back to afterschool and other public school programs that the governor had cut. The budget isn’t final yet, but this is an important step in the right direction.

ICYMI, Hogan budget went to House floor tonight with trims, BOOST cut #mdpolitics #mdga17 #govhogan #mdgop #mddems

— (@mdreporter) March 14, 2017

On state budget @LarryHogan wants to provide $ for private schools, the house doesn't want to divert $ from public schools @michaeltdresser

— Midday with Tom Hall (@MiddayWYPR) March 17, 2017

This is major progress — and the power of organized educators speaking with one voice on behalf of our public schools and students.

But we’re not there yet. Governor Hogan may veto the Protect Our Schools Act, making it all the more important that we pass it quickly so the General Assembly has time to override his veto. Click here to email your legislators or call them at 1–888–520–6732.

Packed house for @Lily_NEA! "Go! Fight! Win!" #protectmdschools

— Maryland Educators (@MSEAeducators) March 13, 2017