- Now that the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future has revised Maryland’s school funding formula for the first time in nearly two decades, billions of dollars in new school funding will expand career and technical education programs, community schools, and pre-k; provide more resources for students from backgrounds of poverty and students with special needs; increase educator pay; hire more educators and expand and diversify the educator pipeline; and create a new, more rigorous accountability system. These programs are designed to raise achievement and address Maryland’s economic inequality with programs to target concentrated poverty.
- The Board of Education will have a significant impact on the implementation of the Blueprint, including future funding and the success of Anne Arundel County schools. The Blueprint is landmark legislation, but there is a continued need for investment in Anne Arundel County schools to see that the Blueprint is successfully implemented and to ensure that educator voices are heard and respected throughout implementation. Specifically, there is considerable room for improvement in addressing educator recruitment and retention. Class sizes have increased because of cost-cutting measures and/or due to hiring freezes, layoffs, and retirements. Many support personnel positions have been eliminated, and Maryland is always challenged with filling educator jobs because we import nearly half of all certificated teachers from prep programs in other states. The Blueprint calls for the hiring of 15,000 additional educators to provide more individualized attention to students.
- The county has outlined a multi-phase redistricting plan as outlined on its website beginning in 2023.
Public Funding for Private Schools
- TAAAC believes any education dollars spent outside of improving public schools makes it harder to make the progress necessary to provide a world-class education for every student.
- Non-public school funding for programs in the budget such as textbooks, technology, school construction, and vouchers reduces the state’s General Fund while subsidizing the cost of private education. Data from the first few years of the BOOST program indicated that more than 70% of voucher recipients already attended and paid for private school before receiving the voucher.
- The Maryland State Department of Education requires a certificate of approval or registration for private schools; it does not accredit or license them. Private schools do not have to report or administer teacher qualifications, class sizes, adherence to Blueprint standards, student retention rates, graduation rates, demographics, or discipline or suspension policies. Without these measures, it is impossible to effectively evaluate the programs funneling public tax dollars to private schools.
- TAAAC believes that educator evaluation systems must be educator-informed, research-based, and collaboratively developed. Evaluation systems should be fair, transparent, timely, rigorous, valid, and designed to improve instruction by focusing on teaching and learning.
- Maryland law mandates that student growth is a “significant component” and “one of the multiple measures” in a teacher’s evaluation. No evaluation criterion can account for more than 35% of the overall score. The law also mandates that evaluation systems must be mutually agreed upon at the local level between school boards, superintendents, and local associations to meet the unique needs of each district.
- TAAAC believes the continued push for high-stakes student assessments undermines educators’ creativity and their ability to respond to the needs of students.
- TAAAC supports rigorous and relevant professional development through the continued alignment of evaluation systems, as well as educator assessments that prioritize educators’ voices in the development of curriculum and assessment.
- Collective bargaining is the negotiation of a contract – including wages, salary scale, benefits, and working conditions – between employers and employees. The items agreed to in a ratified collective bargaining agreement apply to all employees in a bargaining unit, providing a benefit to employees and employers in not having to negotiate thousands of individual contracts.
- TAAAC supports efforts to protect and enhance Maryland’s collective bargaining laws.
- Throughout the most recent cycle of bargaining, TAAAC members have advocated for and negotiated language that improves their working conditions, students’ learning conditions, and our school community, in addition to recruitment and retention of educators to the profession. TAAAC members have identified the following issues as priorities for future negotiations: Open negotiations, maintenance of healthcare benefits, and increased salaries.
- During the 2023 legislative session, TAAAC and MSEA advocated for changing state law that makes negotiations of class size/caseload an illegal subject. We support language that allows it to be a permissive subject of bargaining to allow for educator voice on the subject, better student-educator ratios, or compensation for educators whose caseload/class size exceeds an agreed-upon maximum.
Health and Wellbeing of Educators and Students
- Students and educators continue to face increased stressors, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), food insecurity, housing insecurity, and digital divide issues.
Racial and Social Justice
- TAAAC unequivocally believes that our diversity makes us stronger. We fundamentally believe that schools should be safe, welcoming, and nurturing learning environments for students of all backgrounds and beliefs, and places where all our students see themselves in the lessons they learn and experiences they enjoy.
- TAAAC and MSEA support training and developing high-quality teachers and education leaders, particularly those from diverse and historically underrepresented backgrounds.
- Every child, regardless of their background or zip code, deserves education justice and equitable access to opportunities, resources, and support. We believe that the lives of our Black and Brown students matter and that all our students have a fundamental right to be educated in safe, healthy, and supportive learning communities and all our educators deserve safe, healthy, and supportive working environments.
- TAAAC recognizes the vital importance of ensuring that all students learn about historical figures who not only had a tremendous impact on the forming of our state and our nation but whose actions and sacrifices laid the foundation upon which this nation’s pledge of “liberty and justice for all” must be built. TAAAC also supports students receiving access in primary and secondary education to lessons that reflect their personal backgrounds
- TAAAC is committed to developing critical thinking skills in our students because we know that they enable them to better understand the problems our society faces and to develop collective solutions. To that end, we are abundantly clear that truth and honesty are fundamental components of teaching and learning, as are academic integrity and professional responsibility. Our essential mission is to prepare our students for college, career, and life and to play an active role in our democracy.
- In surrounding counties, such as Carroll County and Montgomery County, as well as in Anne Arundel County, attempts have been made to ban books, limit classroom decorations, and change curriculum to hinder educators’ ability to teach the truth and history to our students, as well as create welcoming, inclusive environments that support our students. TAAAC firmly stands against discrimination, including racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia. We oppose policies that impede educators’ ability to show all students, especially those who have been historically and systematically marginalized, schools that allow them to become lifelong learners.
Parental Involvement and Public Support
- It is calculated that school age children spend 70% of their waking hours (including weekends and holidays) outside of school. Research shows that the most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustment are parental involvement in schools and parental expectations of the child’s academic attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education at school.
- Additionally, research indicates there are three major factors that influence parental involvement in schools:
- Parents’ belief that they can impact what is important, necessary on behalf of their children school.
- The extent to which parents believe that they can have a positive influence on their children’s education; and
- Parents’ perceptions that their children and school want them to be involved.
- TAAAC opposes any effort to outsource or privatize education jobs that are part of a bargaining unit. We maintain that any attempt to outsource or privatize jobs of public educators violates collective bargaining agreements because such an effort is in essence terminating or firing bargaining unit positions.
- Outsourcing and privatization efforts have threatened teacher and education support professional (ESP) jobs for years. In the last few years, Anne Arundel County has attempted to outsource teaching services for deaf and blind students, occupational therapists, and special educators for the purported reasons of understaffing. Additionally, Talbot County has discussed privatizing transportation services, and Kent County has attempted to privatize custodial services. There have been multi-county efforts on the Eastern Shore to outsource the hiring of occupational therapists and physical therapists to work in the schools.
- When jobs are outsourced, quality control is diminished, and safety is compromised. Public employees are subject to background checks that private employers often do not require. After privatizing, local school boards lose control over the individuals working in schools and have little ability to provide input on job performance.
- Privatizers often use an argument of cost-savings as a means of winning contracts. The amount is often misleading because they intentionally underestimate first-year operating costs. Ultimately, they reduce hours and health care coverage, or just cut jobs. All these steps lead to an increase in local unemployment and less money in the community overall.