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February 2, 2011

Education advocates angry, coming to Annapolis

Barely a week after Gov. Martin O'Malley unveiled his 2012 budget, Baltimore education groups have begun rallying against proposed decreases in school aid -- planning bus trips and calling on legislators to overturn the cuts.

As we reported this morning, Baltimore stands to lose about $15 million in state K-12 money, and Prince George's County about $21 million, compared with what they got last year. Other areas would receive more. Baltimore County would be up by about $6 million and Montgomery by about $33 million.

Legislative analysts say some counties would see increases over last year's aid levels because they've lost proportionally more wealth in the housing market collapse while gaining more students. Funding is determined by a per-pupil equation. But Baltimore and all 23 counties would receive less than state education law requires if the legislature approves O'Malley's spending plan.

Baltimore's robust and outspoken education advocate community is already gearing up. Past NAACP Baltimore chapter president Marvin "Doc" Cheatham just sent out a release saying he'd be a bus captain for the planned Feb. 28 education rally in Annapolis.

"Progress is being made in the Baltimore City Public School System, and now is not the time to go in the opposite direction," Cheatham wrote in a statement this afternoon.

The Baltimore Education Coalition, a partnership of more than two dozen schools, religious institutions and other organizations, expects hundreds of supporters to come to Annapolis for the end-of-month rally. Last year, the group brought more than 600 city residents to oppose education funding cuts.

Also planning to make the trip: BUILD. The Rev. Andrew Foster Connors, clergy co-chair of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, told The Sun's Erica Green yesterday that the public "can stomach" tax increases if it means saving education funding.

"What we can't stomach right now is breaking that promise to our kids," said Connors, pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church.

In years past, O'Malley has been able to preserve education aid by using federal stimulus dollars. That money has dried up. If approved, O'Malley's 2012 budget would lop about $94 million in formula-driven increases, leaving K-12 with about $5.7 billion for the next fiscal year.

The Sun's Liz Bowie also recently noted another education change in O'Malley's budget: He proposed eliminating a required high school American government test. That would trim about $2 million from the state's $14.6 billion operating budget.

Said Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso: "I don't understand it. Why fiddle with something like that? … So what does it signal, that government is suddenly less relevant than the other subjects? Why government and not the other tests?"

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 2:45 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: 2011 legislative session


I think everyone knows that the education budget is fat, and Mr. O'Malley has been timid to hold funding flat rather than cutting as originally proposed.

Pruning always invigorates, and readers of this blog know that the city throws away vast resources on what many perceive as a charade.

I hope Annapolis shows some spine.

As a Baltimore city resident I certainly cannot stomach anymore tax increases for the pleasure of living in this decaying morass of a city.
My property taxes are too high, my car insurance is astronomical, fees, taxes, bottle tax-there is nothing left to give.

Education funding should not be cut, but neither should so many other worthy priorities. I work in the disability field. We've already lived through cuts. Spreading the pain is fair, given the fiscal challenges we face. Hopefully, we''ll achieve greater accountability and efficiences in state government so we can cut taxes and still meet all funding priorities.

Maybe its time for the teachers unions to get less, and the pensions for teachers ENDED! The only people in state government who deserve OR earn pensions from the taxpayer are those who run toward dangers when others are running away period! {i.e. police and firefighters} ...MD taxpayers are on the hook for about 12,000 dollars PER STUDENT and still the schools infrastructure and the KIDS go without while teachers salaries and benefits rage out of control! Time to tell the teachers NO!

I am always so appalled to read the comments posted by individuals who do not value education. Yet, it is only through education that our nation will prosper. Your child's future is directly tied to their education. Although the Public School system is not perfect, and hopefully a change in NCLB will help that, Maryland does have the #1 Public School system in the nation. Teachers do not make outrageous salaries. On average, teachers work about 10 hours a day in this state and only get paid for 7.5-8 of those hours. Broken down, they get less than $7 per day, per student they teach. This accounts for an average classroom size. In addition, the pensions and benefits are one of the few reasons why teachers continue, as the pay is not great and far below what they would make in he corporate world. It is so easy to demonize educators, because they are so undervalued and unappreciated. Many do put themselves in harms' way everyday to teach the children of this state. To reduce salaries and educational funding is the equivalent of chopping off your head to save your foot. You may save money, but you will sacrifice the quality of education that our children receive which will have dire consequences for all of our futures. It amazes me that those who are so hard on teachers rarely have children and have never been a teacher. Therefore, they have no idea what it is like to be an educator or what it requires. It is sad so many talk out of ignorance instead of experience and fact.

Let's this the same Baltimore that just gave raises and bonuses to their teachers in December 2010? They can do this when they know cuts could be coming......expecting to have the state continue to bail them out. Please don't tell me to remember "it's for the kids" cause I don't see it that way anymore.

I don't see cutting the American Government HSA requirement as a necessarily bad thing. Remember just because they don't test a subject doesn't mean that the school districts will drop the requirement for graduation. Instead, I see this a chance for growth. True, there will not be the support for interventions in this subject that there was. However, now that the pressure is off to teach certain assessed points which were evaluated by the state, we can find other ways of teaching this subject that may have seemed risky before but will have more meaning to the kids. After all, learning in a classroom setting only one of many ways to gain knowledge. Think of all the ways that you learn the things you need to know in your adult life. On the job, learn as you go, doing your own projects, finding a book at the library, going to visit a place you've never been, reading a manual, watching a cooking show, experimenting, bird watching: all ways that we learn as adults without a classroom. We improve our lives by learning the things that interest us.
As for American Government most of Maryland lives a short distance from the Hub of it. Many communities have members who work for government or very closely with government. With our proximity we can find more meaningful ways to teach Am Gov. Cutting the HSA and support is really a nudge to get people involved.

I changed careers to teach. I was lured by the increasing salaries and stable job with retirement. From the comments and attitudes of most people I see that education is not valued in this country. We spend 700 million a DAY on wars and thats OK. I make 52,000 a year after ten years, have to pay for continuing education out of my own pocket and now they are talking about not paying me for getting the credits that they required. I don't get a coffee break and work at least 400 hours over my contractual hours. Yeah I get paid too much.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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