TESTIMONY FOR SB1000
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future
Bill Sponsor: President Ferguson
Committee: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs
Organization Submitting: Lower Shore Progressive Caucus
Person Submitting: Karen Smith, Communications Co-Chair of the LSPC and Somerset County Educator
In 2009, Maryland public schools were ranked #1 in the nation by three separate, independent studies. This ranking held true until 2013. Sadly, this is not the standard any longer. In 2019, Maryland’s schools were ranked 4th in the nation by Education Week.
The Kirwan Commission and the Blueprint for Maryland’s future has become a hotly contested issue among legislators, educators, and taxpayers. Most would agree--if only in theory--that prioritizing education is necessary for the future of a healthy economy and quality of life of Marylanders. The aim of this very comprehensive bill is to increase funding for universal pre-K, special education, teacher training, concentration of poverty grants, and teacher salaries, to name only a few priorities of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.
While many of those who argue against the bill do so because they say the cost is too high, we at the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus would argue that the cost of not funding the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations is too high. Underprepared teachers cannot hope to prepare students fully. Teacher-education programs are not attracting students. Local universities such as UMES and Salisbury University have few students enrolled in teacher preparatory programs. And why, once certificated, would they choose to stay locally and earn less for doing the same job?
In addition, funding the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will level the playing field for schools on the Lower Eastern Shore. Our students must meet the same standards in order to receive a Maryland diploma as those who attend better funded schools. Teachers in Maryland must also meet the same standards in order to be certificated, yet salaries are not competitive. While there is some consistency for 1st year teachers with only a bachelor’s degree, once teachers gain the required degrees and more experience, there is a huge disparity in salary between the counties. Even though teachers on the Lower Shore must meet the same qualifications in order to remain certificated, they are often paid much less for doing the same job! A teacher with a master’s degree in Wicomico County would have a minimum salary of $77,364. That same teacher would earn $106,543 in Montgomery County. This is unconscionable. How can we hope to attract and keep highly qualified teachers? The answer is that we cannot.
We are asking for a FAVORABLE vote to fund the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Our students truly cannot wait any longer for us to make necessary changes to an education system that is failing our students.