MSEA is involved with many education- and workplace-related issues that are of vital importance to Maryland’s students, parents, educators, and other stakeholders.
Below you will find an alphabetical list of some of the most critical topics, including links to more information, resources, and MSEA positions. To speak with MSEA experts about any of these topics, see our staff directory.
Certification—The Maryland State Department of Education’s Certification Branch provides information on how to become certified to teach in Maryland or renew your teaching certification, approved programs, National Board Certification, and other incentives.
Childhood Obesity—NEA and the NEA Health Information Network (HIN) were founding members of the 2002 Healthy Schools Summit that put into action the public schools portion of the Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Overweight and Obesity. At the 2008 MSEA Representative Assembly, members presented a New Business Item to call attention to the epidemic.
Class Size—Researchers have documented benefits from class sizes of 15-18 students in kindergarten and fewer than 20 students in grades 1-3. Studies show that students in smaller classes continue to reap academic benefits through middle and high school, especially minority and low-income students and students with exceptional needs. MSEA pushed successfully for legislation that requires the Maryland State Department of Education to determine and report actual class size based on the number of students who regularly participate in a classroom teacher's class, rather than the overall pupil-teacher ratio, and at the national level NEA is pushing for restoration of the class size reduction program in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind).
Classroom Management—The most important factor in student learning may be the classroom environment. MSEA offers early-career educators the I Can Do It! program, which demonstrates effective classroom management skills through topics such as: identification and demonstration of the elements for effective classroom management; tips to create a smoothly flowing classroom; different communication styles and how they relate to student/teacher/parent communication; and suggested interventions for difficult behaviors encountered in the classroom. NEA offers WORKS4ME, an online resource with hundreds of archived best practices and tips.
Cultural Competence—Cultural competence is the key to thriving in culturally diverse classrooms and schools and better serving diverse students, their families, and their communities. Cultural competent educators successfully teach students from a culture or cultures other than their own, but it’s not a skill that can be learned as a result of a single day of training, or reading a book, or taking a course—it takes time and practice. MSEA’s C.A.R.E. (Culture, Ability, Resilience, and Effort) program helps educators examine research-based, classroom-proven methodologies to improve teaching and learning and find ways to close the achievement gaps in culturally diverse schools.
Early Childhood Education—Research shows that providing a high-quality education for children before they turn five yields significant long-term benefits. NEA and its affiliates believe high-quality early childhood education is one of the best investments our country can make. Learn more about early childhood education in Maryland and nationwide.
English Language Learners—Achievement gaps between non-native speaking students who are learning the English language (ELLs) and non-ELL students are deeply rooted, pervasive, complex, and challenging for educators. The good news is that NEA is actively addressing the complex issues by engaging in research and advocacy and proposing strategies that we can pursue individually and collectively to help eliminate those gaps.
Hunger in the Classroom—students regularly coming to school hungry because there is not enough to eat at home—is a widespread problem in the U.S. Throughout the nation, K-8 teachers report seeing child hunger as a problem manifesting itself in their classrooms and showing no sign of receding.
The NAACP and public education
The promise of a quality education is an important civil and human right that has yet to be fully realized in the American public education system. African Americans are more likely to attend high-poverty schools—that is, public schools where more than 75 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—and are less likely to graduate from high school and subsequently attend college at rates lower than any other racial group.
Learn how the NAACP National Education Program strives to ensure that all students have access to an equal and high-quality public education by eliminating education-related racial and ethnic disparities in our public schools.
Parental Involvement—Studies show that the more involved a child’s parents or guardians, the greater the positive impact on academic achievement. Visiting the school, or participating in community activities that promote good public schools, means a lot to both the child and the educators working with him or her. Parents and teachers alike can take advantage of great ideas and suggestions for helping parents get actively involved in their children’s education.
Professional Development—Maryland’s Professional Development Standards call for job-embedded, needs based, individual growth opportunities; you can find out what the standards call for and determine how your school measures up when it comes to staff development. And whether you are a classroom teacher, education support professional, administrator, certificated specialist, faculty, student, or retired member, MSEA offers a variety of free or low-cost professional development programs, trainings, and workshops year round.
Teacher Quality—Having a qualified, competent, and caring educator in every public school classroom is critical to student success. MSEA is working with NEA, educators and policymakers to provide new and veteran teachers with the support they need to raise student achievement and close the achievement gaps affecting many Maryland students.
School Safety—Education employees and students face more safety issues in the schools than ever before. MSEA and NEA work hard at the state and national level to be sure laws are in place that protect both staff and students. MSEA worked hard for the School Safety and the School Order and Discipline acts, which deal with difficult or dangerous student behavior, and protects staff in specific situations on or off school property. NEA’s Safe Schools Program, partners with national organizations to advocate for safe schools and communities and to create a positive learning environment for all students.
Student Dropouts—Research shows that about 1.3 million students drop out of high school every year—an average of 7,200 every school day. The problem is worse among minority students. Nearly 50% of African American and Hispanic students do not complete school on time. Dropout prevention has been the focus of MSEA’s Human and Civil Rights Committee and NEA’s 12-Point Action Plan to Reduce the Drop Out Rate includes the most promising actions supported by experience and data.
Workload/Working Conditions—A recent survey of Maryland’s teachers and principals showed that most are pretty happy with their teaching and learning environment. And that’s heartening because research makes clear that learning conditions in the classroom are of more importance to a teacher than salary, benefits or school locale. But with public schools facing budget cuts and under intense pressure to address the needs of a diverse and challenging student population, frontline educators—including staff charged with maintaining a healthy and safe learning environment, and any school employee feeling the stress of the job—can use all of the help they can get.