THE LATEST FROM THE KIRWAN COMMISSION
One year after the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission) delayed a final report, the Commission has been asked to delay for another year. The delay a year ago was disappointing, but many advocates argued that it was important to get all of the work done right, rather than fast. While it’s still important to get it right, the suggestion that we need to wait another year is wrong. Legislators across the state were elected in November on the promise of fixing the $2.9 billion annual underfunding of our schools. And while it was likely that completely fixing the funding crisis would take more than one year, we never imagined that there would be further delay in getting started on revising the funding formulas.
Legislators plan to move a package during this legislative session of at least $200 million in new funding proposals that appears to include a number of MSEA priorities — including teacher salary increases, the expansion of community schools and pre-k, and increased funding for mental health services. We must put pressure on in Annapolis to do as much as possible as quickly as possible. We must push to pass the biggest and best package of new funding this session, faster action on revising the funding formula, and ending the underfunding of our schools. This can and should include the Commission continuing to work throughout the legislative session to get this done. This can and should include setting aside money during this legislative session to go towards funding formula changes. This can and should include listening to educators about policy changes that will make a difference in our schools — like more planning time, a living wage for support staff, and expanded career technical education.
The status quo is unacceptable. Our kids cannot keep waiting and waiting. We will be pushing for faster action and yesterday’s delay makes it all the more important that a statewide coalition of thousands of education advocates descends on Annapolis March 11, 2019 to March for Our Schools (more on the march below). We must continue to keep the pressure up until elected officials take comprehensive action to end the underfunding of our schools.
Monday, March 11, 2019 is when thousands of Maryland educators, parents, students, and community activists will be heard. This is our moment to push the actions necessary to finally end the $2.9 billion in annual underfunding of our schools and give our students the support they deserve. Sign up here and march with us. To convince the governor and the presiding officers to lead on this once-in-a-generation opportunity, educators and allies from across the state must stand up, be heard, and keep the pressure up until it gets done. Join us to take back our voice!
Download MSEA’s legislative priorities for the 2019 General Assembly Session. This document is a tool to support MSEA’s advocacy on issues ranging from the Kirwan Commission, to vouchers, to charter schools, and to our social justice and workers’ rights agenda. Please share these priorities with members, friends, coalition partners and legislators.
Voters overwhelmingly passed Question 1 in November, ensuring that casino revenues would finally go to increasing school funding. Last week, Governor Hogan proposed that the initial year of that funding go towards the multi-billion dollar school construction backlog. The governor plans to introduce a bill fleshing out this proposal in the coming legislative session. While addressing school construction is important, we must make sure that this does not become an either/or conversation — either we address school construction or we address the $2.9 billion underfunding in operating costs. We must meaningfully and responsibly address both issues for our students to have the type of schools that they deserve.