Clarity, advocacy, support, and representation when and where you need it most
The stakes are high right now, and everyone acknowledges that we’re in this together, finding our way the best we can for our families, jobs, and communities. “Our abilities to model grace and compassion in our relationships with our students and their families is something educators do every day — it’s part of our job,” said MSEA President Cheryl Bost.
“The new conditions of learning have stretched our resources and challenged us, but I am convinced we will come out of this a stronger profession, with renewed respect from the public and well-positioned to advocate for the funding and support that we need from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and local governments. We will need it more than ever to address the inequities and disparities that are only being magnified during this time of crisis distance learning.”
“I want to start with the school calendar. That’s at the top of everyone’s mind. What’s going to happen in the fall? Let me give some clarity…”
That’s how President Bost opened her comments at MSEA’s Learn More at 4 on Wednesday, April 22. It was the third Learn More at 4, a weekly Facebook Live series from MSEA featuring Bost, General Counsel Kristy Anderson, and moderator Adam Mendelson, assistant executive director for communications.
“Clarity is essential right now. Please stay tuned to MSEA,” says President Bost. “We’ve got your back.”
“We’re pushing the Maryland State Department of Education, enlisting our legal department to thoroughly examine MSDE and local board directives to be sure educators are treated fairly and with respect and, crucially, advocating that everyone remains on pay status. But we also want to be sure jobs are safe; expectations are clear, reasonable, and possible; and educators are supplied the resources they need to do their jobs safely.”
Learn More at 4 is just one of the ways MSEA has educators’ back. At two teletown halls MSEA has held since the beginning of the school closure, more than 15,000 members listened live as President Bost, General Counsel Kristy Anderson, and guests like Maryland General Assembly Senate President Bill Ferguson, a former high school teacher, and Dr. Joshua Scharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins, answered listener questions.
We’ve answered the questions of hundreds of members live or by email and made sure we’ve driven the public conversation as President Bost appears in virtual interviews with reporters from across the state talking about what educators are experiencing and how we can help students and families.
“If you missed one of our Learn More at 4 events on Facebook Live or a teletown halls, visit marylandeducators.org or MSEA’s social media pages for inks to the recordings,” Bost says. “And in the future, expect more guests, more answers, and more of what you need to know.”
Don’t miss MSEA’s series of FAQs covering issues at the top of educators’ minds. Compiled and written by MSEA experts, these are invaluable one-page documents available to read and download at marylandeducators.org/coronavirus.
“Local presidents and our statewide UniServ field staff are meeting regularly with their boards of education,” said David Helfman, MSEA executive director. “This is building on the critical local advocacy and relationships that our members need right now and in the future for clarity and security with prolonged distance learning, job expectations, continued pay status, contract negotiations, and so much more.
“And, thanks to the work of local presidents and UniServ directors, building representative assemblies are continuing to be held so that school staff have connections to their local associations and MSEA and, importantly, we continue to hear and understand evolving member concerns so we are fighting for your top priorities.”
While the coronavirus crisis upsets the flow of the school year and wreaks havoc with certification, evaluations, and more for educators, MSEA is hosting Zoom webinars to help.
Recently, Praxis Core Prep, the program dedicated to support aspiring educators and conditional teachers as they complete the Praxis, held a webinar with several of the program’s member-tutors on hand to answer questions.
MSEA’s cohort of early career educators also hosted a first-year panel supporting MSEA’s growing aspiring educator membership of students in higher ed teacher programs. Kayla Moore, a first grade teacher in Prince George’s County, had great tips for incoming educators — don’t look for perfection, you will make mistakes but you will learn and grow; advocate for yourself and your students and join your union. “Be authentic,” she adds, “and trust the process — whatever day it is you will make it through.”