Educators work to build understanding and support for community schools in the City of Steeples.
Educators and community members gathered in Allegany County on November 9 for a discussion about public education sponsored and organized by the Allegany County Education Association. ACEA is a merged local association that represents teachers, services providers, and education support professionals.
Led by ACEA, a panel of educators and civic stakeholders — including representatives from the business community and the NAACP — discussed what Allegany schools need to prepare students for post-high school job training or apprenticeships, two- or four-year college, and a changing workforce in Western Maryland and beyond.
Lack of funding was a big focus, with hopes that the new education funding formula recommendations due from the Kirwan Commission would make a difference for the mostly rural county.
“The county commissioners have funded our public schools at only the required maintenance of effort for the past seven years,” said ACEA President John Reuschlein. “Like elsewhere in our state, too many of our classrooms are overcrowded. Students are simply not getting the attention educators know they need and deserve.”
Other topics included the purpose of assessments, the value of career, technology, and trade skills, the impact of large class sizes, and regaining professional respect for educators’ skills, value, and contributions.
“ACEA’s forum gave community members a chance to challenge the panel directly about the concerns and visions they have about our schools. In turn, we could all share the passion and commitment we have for our students and community,” said middle school counselor Shawnee McElfish. “There was no one in the middle — we were able to speak directly and frankly to one another. It was an invigorating and energizing process, one where we all felt like winners.”
“Improving our schools is the job of the entire community,” said Reuschlein, “We’re looking forward to more forums that will keep us talking, sharing, and working together.”