Up the Street
Comprehensive Fix to Maintenance of Effort (MOE) is
After two months of workgroup meetings, a team of delegates
from the Appropriations and Ways and Means committees revealed the much
anticipated maintenance of effort bill. House Bill 1412 is a comprehensive bill
that addresses all of the aspects of the current broken law, including:
Creating “maintenance of effort” as the understood funding
floor and providing predictability in local funding for education.
- Accurate accounting of the MOE to exclude school
construction debt service from the calculation.
- Mandated waiver process if a county ever funds below the MOE
- Increased flexibility for counties that may need to seek MOE
relief in challenging economic times.
- Elimination of the current penalty system, replaced with an
assurance of funding, even if it requires the state directing county aid
straight to the local school board.
- Helping counties help themselves to make their effort by
providing additional taxing authority for the specific purpose of funding
While no bill is a perfect bill, and there are sections that
we will want to amend for clarification, this is a very strong piece of
legislation. Our challenge now is to mobilize association leaders, members, and
education allies to support HB 1412. It is the association’s top legislative
priority and we need your help. Click here to send an email to your elected
officials in support of the comprehensive fix to maintenance of effort.
Senate Bill 848 was amended in the Budget and Taxation
committee to be the Senate version of the maintenance of effort fix. The full
text of the Senate bill is not yet available. It, too, is a good bill, but is
not as comprehensive in addressing all aspects of the broken law. We will
continue to work with the Senate to conform SB 848 closer to the House version
Both bills are filed as emergency legislation, requiring a
3/5 majority of both chambers to pass. That is a significant bar to reach, and
all the more reason to continue our advocacy on these bills and this issue.
Five-Day Rule for IEP Meetings
House Bill 596 will allow schools to provide parents with
IEP meeting documents five calendar days prior to an IEP meeting rather than
five business days, as in the current law. The bill hearing will be in the Ways
and Means committee on Thursday, March 8. Click here to ask legislators to fix
the five-day rule.
MSEA supports the intent of the rule, which is for parents
to be more prepared for IEP meetings. We also believe a change to five calendar
days will provide parents with adequate time to prepare for the meeting, while
also allowing educators more time to collect documents to be discussed in the
IEP plan meeting.
Unfortunately, parent groups and disability advocate
organizations have been lobbying heavily against changing the law. Bill sponsor
Delegate Anne Kaiser (Montgomery) intends to amend her own bill to change it
back to the required 5 business days with an exception to disallow IEP meetings
in the first 3 days following a long holiday break.
MSEA would like to see relief for overtasked educators and
more resources dedicated to the heavy burden which the administrative tasks of
IEPs place on school employees daily. We will be advocating for HB 596 as
originally proposed and in addition we will attempt to provide greater
flexibility for the delivery of meeting materials and new guidelines for school
systems from the Maryland State Department of Education to streamline and
improve the IEP process for everyone involved.
Efforts to Weaken Maryland’s Charter School Law Are
Two House bills have been introduced to rewrite the state’s
charter school law. House Bill 1217 and HB 1218 propose sweeping changes to the
charter school law. Chief among these are establishing the State Board of
Education as a primary chartering authority giving charter applicants the
option of applying to local boards or the State Board. Both bills also make
local boards accountable to the State Boards in approving and denying charter
If these bills pass, charters granted by the State Board
will be different than those granted by local boards. State charter schools
will have virtually no limits or accountability imposed on them by law as they
will be exempt from state and local education laws including bargaining unit
membership and collective bargaining rights. Under this legislation the charter
school operators would determine salary, wages, hours, and working conditions.
- HB 1217 would allow virtual schools to become charter
schools, and mandate that funding for transportation be included in the per
pupil allotment provided to charter schools.
- HB 1218 would also provide money for charter schools for
procurement of facilities through a mandatory per pupil allotment from local
boards and a state funded facility loan fund.
With hearings on both bills in two weeks, MSEA is strongly
opposing these bills.
Marriage Equality Bill Signed by Governor O’Malley
Another week and another historic action on behalf of
marriage equality in Maryland. Thursday night included the bill signing
ceremony as Governor Martin O’Malley signed HB 438 (Civil Marriage Protection
Act) to position Maryland as the 8th state in the nation to recognize same sex
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss
Today is Dr. Seuss’ birthday which means MSEA will be
continuing our tradition to celebrate Read Across America month by partnering
with legislators to collect and donate books to school libraries. This year’s
festivities in Annapolis have included a Green Eggs and Ham breakfast with Lt.
Governor Anthony Brown.
You did your part… now keep it up
Successful Statewide Day of Action
Thousands of phone calls, emails, and visits with
legislative offices took place this week as a part of MSEA’s Day of Action to
ask legislators to protect school funding. In just one day, over 1,000
educators and education activists called their legislators. And over the course
of two days, members generated more than 1,850 emails asking legislators to fix
the broken MOE law. The legislative hotline will continue to be updated and
members and allies should continue calling 866-268-MSEA to help keep up the pressure.
Thank You to Educator Town Hall Participants
More than 100 MSEA members participated in the Educator Town
Hall in Annapolis on Monday evening. The event included multiple panels of
elected and appointed officials and provided an opportunity for educators to
address major issues in this legislative session, including full funding of
Thornton, the need to fix MOE, and rejecting Governor O’Malley’s irresponsible
shift of teacher pensions to local governments. The town hall was broadcast on
the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 earlier this week. Hour one and hour two are
both available for download.