We’re $3 Billion Behind and We’re Pushing Back

This Is Our Momentu2014Educators are leading by pushing the Kirwan Commission to make the right decisions.

MSEA President Betty Weller introduces MSEA’s This Is Our Moment campaign at a Calvert Education Association building rep assembly October 16.

Every educator has stories — the kind that give you goosebumps or bring a tear to your eye. Those are the stories that help keep educators in the classroom — but what also helps are working conditions that lead to student and educator success. That’s why MSEA educators are organizing to influence the Kirwan Commission, the group charged with updating the public school funding formula, which will affect a generation of students.

MSEA’s This Is Our Moment campaign is reaching out to educators, parents, and community members in school and neighborhood meetings across the state. It’s an opportunity to collect input from everyone: What do you want to see changed? What does a first-class education look like? How can we provide it? In Calvert and Anne Arundel counties, association reps recently learned exactly how and what they can do to help from MSEA President Betty Weller and Vice President Cheryl Bost.

Our Moment: Calling All Building Reps

This Is Our Moment: Anne Arundel County teachers learn how they can help influence the Kirwan Commission and improve public school funding for the next generation of students.

Who remembers the Thornton Commission, the last group that updated the education funding formula,” MSEA President Betty Weller asked Calvert County building reps on October 16. “It’s been 15 years since the school funding formula was last updated.

“Since then, the number of kids in poverty has doubled, we have more students receiving special ed services, and more English language learners than ever. Our class sizes are increasing and we have even more state and federal mandates. The current funding formula hasn’t kept up with these changes.”

What’s Changed Since 2002?
For one thing, there was no Blue Ivy Carter …mseanewsfeed.com

Weller was in Calvert to introduce the campaign, share the resources, and stir up building reps to organize their buildings, share their stories, and, importantly, show up to the next Kirwan Commission public hearing on October 25 at Largo High School. (Read how educators and community members showed up in force at the public hearings in Baltimore and Western Maryland.)

Calvert Education Association President Dona Ostenso and her team will be the teachers in the red t-shirts at the Kirwan Commission public hearing at Largo High School on October 25.

“If we want more funding in education to improve teacher salaries, have smaller class sizes, more time to plan, and additional resources,” said Calvert Education Association President Dona Ostenso, “we need to stand together and speak up like we did last year when we fought to restore our steps and teacher pay. We won that battle and now our contracts are funded for the next three years. It’s time to step up.

“Let’s organize once again and make sure our voices are heard at the public hearing next week.”

An hour later, Ostenso had 25 teachers signed up for the bus ride to represent Calvert schools and their profession at Largo High. “And that’s just the beginning,” she said.

In Anne Arundel County, a similar gathering took place when local president Richard Benfer and MSEA Vice President Cheryl Bost rallied teachers at the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County building rep assembly. “Over the next couple of months,” Bost said, “hundreds of building reps like you will be holding building meetings with tens of thousands of educators to let them know about this great opportunity, get their feedback for what they want to see from increased funding, and tell us what they’re willing to do to make it happen.

A teacher reviews some of the This Is Our Moment resources.

“Your role is to hold one of these 10-minute meetings in your building. We’ll deliver all the feedback collected from these meetings to the Kirwan Commission — and together we’ll build the power to get them done. We have resources for every building in the county — meeting scripts, sign-in sheets, commitment cards, a slide show, and a video to use during the meeting.

“This is our moment,” Bost said. “The more people we can talk to about what the Kirwan Commission and their recommendations means to the future of public education, the better our chances for success.”

Learn more at OurMomentMaryland.com.