Our campaign to increase salaries for school support staff

And other legislative updates in this week’s Up the Street

Driving legislation to raise PSR salaries is the reality that roughly half of education support professionals earn less than $35,000 a year.


MSEA calls for salary increases for education support professionals

During this session, the MSEA is leading the campaign for legislation to increase the salaries of Education Support Professionals (ESPs). ESPs provide our students with transportation, nutritious meals, classroom support, technology support, etc., but they are generally not paid according to the value of their work and their skill levels. Currently, about half of ESPs in Maryland earn less than $35,000 a year. We must do better.

Filling ESP positions was difficult before the pandemic, and it has reached crisis levels, with staffing shortages evident in state jurisdictions. Senate Bill 831 / House Bill 1349 would give ESPs $500 bonuses in fiscal years 2023 and 24 to provide short-term relief, and it would establish a task force to explore the best ways to improve long-term ESP salaries. The first hearing on the bill is scheduled for March 9 at 1 p.m. in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Click here to contact your legislators and urge them to support this legislation to increase ESP wages.

Educators seek relief from crushing workload in bargaining rights over class sizes

MSEA is also the main voice to pass House Bill 890 / Senate Bill 962 to relieve overwhelming workloads and overcrowded classrooms that discourage educators from staying in the profession statewide. A statewide survey by the MSEA found that classes are so large, stress levels so high and staffing shortages so widespread that a majority of educators are more likely to leave the profession. or retire earlier than they were before the pandemic. The survey found that giving educators the right to negotiate class sizes would have a huge impact on their working conditions and the likelihood of staying in the profession.

Survey results include:

  • 96% of educators say staffing shortages are a serious or very serious concern
  • 92% of educators say their workload is a serious or very serious concern
  • 60% of educators are more likely to leave the profession or retire sooner than they expected due to the pandemic
  • 61% of educators said they would be somewhat or much more likely to stay in the profession if class sizes could be reduced
  • 90% of educators said the ability to reduce class sizes would somewhat or greatly improve their working conditions

The poll was covered by WBAL-TV, OMCPand other media.

Class size legislation will have a hearing at the House Ways and Means Committee at 1 p.m. on March 3. Click here to reach out to your legislators and urge them to give educators a voice in class size.

Blueprint Coalition mobilizes to restore funding denied by Hogan

Several members of Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Coalition, including MSEA, spoke at a press conference Thursday to challenge Governor Hogan’s blatant disregard for funding education in historically underserved communities in his budget proposal. . Among the $140 million in Blueprint funding that Hogan did not include for fiscal year 2023 were $99 million in education effort adjustment funding for the city of Baltimore and $26.5 million. dollars for Prince George’s County to help them implement the new programs. On Thursday, representatives from the MSEA, Strong Schools Maryland, the Baltimore Teachers Union, the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, the chair of the delegation from the city of Baltimore, Del. Stephanie Smith of the Prince George’s County Delegation Chairman, Del. Nick Charles, and others joined for a press conference to ask Hogan to restore the Blueprint funding he omitted from his budget by an additional budget. Speakers noted that the Blueprint’s funding failure fully demonstrates Hogan’s consistent refusal to give all students, especially those in historically underserved communities, the same opportunity to pursue their dreams through a high-quality education. .

Virtual School Questions; MSE outlines programmatic design expectations

Knowing that virtual or distance education may continue in one form or another in the future, railings for what it might look like have become more important to establish. On Wednesday, Howard County Education Association President Colleen Morris and MSEA Executive Director Sean Johnson spoke before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee to make the case for the virtual education legislation to create clear safeguards, to ensure students receive individual attention, to set maximum class sizes. , and employ educators from the school system rather than outside contractors. Morris previously served on a pre-session working group, which helped develop SB362. “There are bad actors in this [virtual learning] space – we see it in consortium models … which reduce this proliferation of for-profit interests,” Johnson said. “It is essential to create safeguards that protect the rights of students to a free and appropriate public education,” Morris explained.


AIB and MSDE seek additional months to accelerate blueprint for Maryland’s future

Given the intentional delays caused by Hogan’s veto and the slow nomination process, the Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) voted on Monday to seek General Assembly approval for a new timeline to meet the Blueprint deadlines. Ahead of a joint hearing of the House Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees on Thursday, AIB President Isiah Leggett said his board stands ready to work closely with the AIB’s Education Department. State of Maryland (MSDE) and other stakeholders while developing its required comprehensive implementation plan. The full BIA plan will guide the MSDE Blueprint Implementation Plan, and it was originally scheduled to be presented on Tuesday. However, the delay in setting up the AIB – whose members were officially confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday – has made it impossible to draw up a plan for the next twelve years by February 15. The AIB proposes to have a draft plan in the fall, ready for public comment, and adoption of the plan by December.

Also at the Joint Chamber Hearing, State School Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury proposed an adjusted timeline for the implementation of his office’s master plan, including periods over the next few months for the public participation and for working with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) while developing the plan that will guide the LEA.

Federal relief funds will flow through MSDE to LEAs for pandemic recovery

The National Education Association (NEA) has reported positive news that federal coronavirus relief funds can be used to pay substitute teachers, raise salaries, hire teachers, and more. to deal with the effects of the pandemic on the workforce. In effect MSDE recently announced $150 million in grants available to local education agencies on federal coronavirus relief funds available to address the effects of the pandemic on students and schools, including staffing shortages, support for future educators, and targeted student support and to historically underserved communities. The NEA also reported that community schools are back on a priority list under the Biden administration, and schools most in need will receive full service from the US Department of Education. competitive grant program for community schools.


Candidate filing deadline extended as Court of Appeals hears case against district map

the the deadline for submitting applications to participate in the June 28 primary has been extended from February 22 to March 22. The Maryland Court of Appeals, hearing a case that slowed the promulgation of the new legislative district map approved by the General Assembly, has allowed the extension of the deadline. Thursday, the court tentatively set evidence and discovery deadlines that raised concerns for Elections Board representative Andrea Trento. He said the tentative timeline for the case to be settled in early April makes time very tight before the June 28 primary.

Andrew B. Reiter