Poll: Maryland Educators Face Increasing Financial Strains

Thursday, August 22, 2019
Adam Mendelson
(443) 433-3630

Half of Maryland educators work a second job to make ends meet

A startling—and increasing—number of Maryland educators work second jobs, spend their own money on school supplies, and run up personal debt just to make ends meet, according to a new poll of the state’s educators.

Poll findings include:

  • In the last year, 94% of Maryland educators paid for school supplies out of their own pocket, an increase over the 91% of Maryland educators who indicated that they did so when polled in 2018.
  • In the last year, 50% of Maryland educators held a second job to make ends meet—up 9 percentage points from the 41% who held a second job the year before. Among educators under 30 years old, 57% worked a second job in the last year.
  • Debt is a problem for many educators; 44% have run up personal debt to make ends meet over the last year, up 10 percentage points from the previous year.

“Educators should be able to focus on their students—not on running to a second job or running up debt just to make ends meet,” said Baltimore County elementary school teacher and MSEA President Cheryl Bost. “While the passage of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future during the 2019 legislative session was a good first step, we need to take action during the coming school year to finally end the underfunding of our schools and make sure that every neighborhood in the state has a great public school for our students.”

During the 2019 session, the General Assembly passed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which added $1.1 billion in new school funding over the next three years, including an average 1.5% increase in teacher salaries, funding to expand pre-k and community schools, additional resources for special education and mental health, and more. The Blueprint was passed following the March for Our Schools, the largest rally Annapolis had seen in nearly a decade with more than 8,500 educators, parents, and students from across the state.

The Kirwan Commission is developing final recommendations to address the $2.9 billion in annual underfunding of Maryland’s public schools identified by an independent analysis overseen by the Maryland State Department of Education. The Commission’s recommendations will be taken up by the 2020 General Assembly with the expectation that the state will revise its school funding formula for the first time in nearly two decades.

Research has found that Maryland teachers make 85 cents on the dollar compared to other professions requiring similar education, and that more than 24,000 education support professionals—like paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and custodians—do not make a living wage in Maryland.

For the full poll memo, click here. The poll was conducted by GBAO Strategies on behalf of the Maryland State Education Association. The survey of 800 public school employees who are members of MSEA was conducted July 8-11, 2019 and reached respondents on both landlines and cell phones. The survey results carry a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval.

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