Maryland Legislative Session a Victory for Students and Educators
Tuesday, April 13, 2010...The Maryland General Assembly adjourned the 2010 legislative session granting increased funding to public education, approving an independent labor relations board for education employees, and creating education reform intended to enhance the state’s bid for federal Race to the Top funding. In a session where an unstable economy and state and local budget deficits served as an uncertain backdrop, lawmakers continued to place a high priority on public education, the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) announced today. The education budget was fully funded at $5.7 billion, including the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI), which adjusts funding to compensate for regional differences in the cost of education.
“We are ecstatic that the Maryland General Assembly continues to recognize that in order to maintain our great public schools, we must consistently have adequate funding,” said Clara Floyd, president of MSEA. “We understand tough decisions had to be made, but the decision to put our children first is one that will be beneficial to the quality of life for all of Maryland’s residents.”
The Education Reform Act of 2010 has the potential to enhance Maryland’s schools with a provision to provide early mentoring and professional development for teachers who may be at risk for failing to achieving tenure. MSEA has long advocated for quality training for educators to slow the revolving door of beginning teachers, 50 percent of whom leave the profession within the first five years. The new legislation increases tenure time from two to three years and includes student progress as a significant component of teacher evaluations.
“We worked closely with Governor O’Malley, the General Assembly, and education advocates to make sure we passed a law that would be a win-win for educators as well as our students,” Floyd noted. “This puts us in a better position to compete for federal grant dollars and it also puts new teachers coming into the profession in a better position to receive the support and help that is needed to be successful.”
Another victory is the passage of the Fairness in Negotiations Act, which creates an independent Public School Labor Relations Board for all employees in K-12 education. The bill allows for labor disputes to be resolved through this board, while education policy continues to be determined by the State Board of Education. “We worked diligently on this piece of legislation for several years and we are pleased to finally see victory,” Floyd remarked.
With the legislative session over, MSEA will work to ensure that education-friendly officials are elected in November’s election. “It is the collaborative relationship between our members, the governor, lawmakers, and other education advocates that made these past 90 days successful for public education,” Floyd said. “It is that same spirit of teamwork and commitment to excellence that will help to keep Maryland’s public schools number one.”