And other legislative updates in Up the Street this month
THIS MONTH IN ANNAPOLIS
Historic victories bring a pro-public education administration to power
MSEA members played a pivotal role in the history made on Election Day, when Marylanders elected Wes Moore and Aruna Miller as governors and lieutenant governors, Brooke Lierman as comptroller and Anthony Brown as attorney general. The MSEA looks forward to working with these key leaders to support education, empower educators to help shape public education policy, and advance racial and social justice.
MSEA made important early recommendations to Moore, Miller, Lierman and Brown on April 2 at the union’s Spring Representatives Meeting, which Maryland Matters called critical to the success of the Moore campaign. MSEA’s inclusive and thorough recommendation process brought together hundreds of educators from across the state, chosen by their peers, to vote on the endorsements. MSEA then reinforced those endorsements with thousands of volunteers across the state knocking on doors, making phone calls and handing out nearly 400,000 Apple ballots in the election.
“It’s a historic day for Maryland, our students and our schools,” MSEA President Cheryl Bost said in a statement on election night. “We are thrilled that Wes Moore, Aruna Miller, Brooke Lierman and Anthony Brown are expected to win their races and lead the fight to ensure no one is left behind and everyone has an equal chance to succeed. By successfully defeating candidates who would have focused on politicizing our schools and attacking the work of dedicated educators, this is a major victory for our efforts to ensure every student in every neighborhood has the resources and opportunities to achieve their dreams realize.”
Candidates recommended by educators not only performed well at the top of the ticket; There were also many electoral victories to celebrate. Educator-recommended candidates have won 92% of the House elections and 90% of the Senate elections advertised at press time. These odds are likely to continue to increase as more races are called. Educator-backed district executives had a strong night, including convincing wins from Calvin Ball and Johnny Olszewski. Mail-in votes are leaning towards Steuart Pittman, who appears to have a good chance of emerging victorious once all the votes are tallied. The Frederick County executive race looks set to be headed for a photo finish. Mail-in votes also seem very likely to NEA and MSEA recommended Congressman David Trone (D-6th) exaggerated in his re-election bid against far-right challenger Neil Parrott.
That year, extremist groups attempted to divide communities, specifically targeting and politicizing races from educational institutions. The educators’ work helped defeat extremists who competed in many races across the state and set the stage for focused conversations about what our students need, rather than being distracted by national politics and division. However, some races have seen more extreme candidates win or could win when all the ballots are tallied, threatening to divert local educational conversations from what matters to local schools to national and extreme political agendas. Regardless of the outcome, MSEA members will fight for treaties, policies and laws to protect and defend marginalized students and educators, the resources students need to achieve their dreams, and an accurate and honest curriculum.
MSEA has a voice in the new government’s transition team
The Moore-Miller transition team has appointed MSEA President Cheryl Bost to the 26-member Transition Steering Committee, which will help develop policy recommendations statewide. Along with a handful of other leaders from a variety of sectors and backgrounds, Bost will have a unique opportunity to provide a voice for educators from the very beginning of the Moore administration.
In announcing their transition team, Moore and Miller reaffirmed their commitment to establishing an administration that operates transparently and represents and listens to all Marylanders, regardless of their geographic, racial or social background. Repeating a campaign mantra, Miller said, “Those closest to the challenge are closest to the solution.”
NEWS AND NOTES
MSEA advises AIB on implementation plan
On Thursday, as the Blueprint for Maryland Future Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) finalized its comprehensive Blueprint implementation plan, Bost advised that the voices and expertise of educators are essential to implement the Blueprint as adopted. The AIB is finalizing its draft implementation plan to be submitted to the Governor by December 1st. Bost explained the AIB plan’s failure to involve educators in a redesign of preschool assessment, the addition of support for English learners without designated funding, and the omission of union representation in several areas where the Blueprint Act was intended to give workers a voice. Inaccurate implementation of the blueprint risks losing important votes and missing key goals that MSEA fought for in legislation.
Bost agreed with the AIB’s proposal to adjust deadlines to support optimal implementation of the blueprint. The AIB is considering extending the March 2023 deadline for municipalities to finalize their own draft implementation plans and suggests they could finalize their plans in three phases, with the first due in March. If the change is allowed, county officials would first present plans for college and careers pathways for students in grades 11 and 12; for requirements for certified school staff who have regular and direct contact with students to complete annual student behavioral health training; and for encouraging and supporting teachers, particularly those from historically underrepresented populations, to obtain and maintain National Board certification. Districts have until March 2024 to implement other programs, such as a new professional development system to help teachers advance in their careers. MSEA intends to have a strong voice on plans for these programs that directly impact students, educators’ careers and local bargaining rights.
Record monthly casino revenue, mobile sports betting contributes $59 million to education
Maryland Lottery and Gaming reported a record month-long revenue of $213 million from the state’s six casinos in October. The state received $80 million, of which $58 million went to the Education Trust Fund (ETF). The most recent sports betting revenue report from the state’s seven licensed entities was nearly $31 million in September, with $984,000 going to the Blueprint Future Fund.
GOP-led states stall Biden’s student debt relief plan; Texas ruling threatens applications
Student loan forgiveness requests stood little chance before a coalition of Republican governors sued the Biden administration over the debt relief plan. Applications remain open, but a federal court ruling in Texas this week threatens to shut them down. As the litigation progresses, a court order prevents the administration from processing applications, but the site encourages those eligible to apply. The plan is open to individuals who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021, as well as families who made less than $250,000. FFEL) are eligible for up to $10,000 in debt relief. Information about the loan forgiveness program is available at studentaid.gov. The payment pause for federal student loans, permitted since 2020, has been extended to December 31.
Ministry of Education funds more extracurricular activities
The US Department of Education said it is distributing an additional $50 million through the Safer Communities Act to fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to combat chronic absenteeism. The money is to be used to add or improve after-school, after-school and summer programs for middle and high school students.