During a February 24th Board of Education meeting, MCPS BoE voted to take positions on numerous pieces of legislation introduced in Annapolis. They once again proved that their words are meaningless when it comes time to vote. Most egregious is their opposition to laws proposed that would increase family and medical leave, endow public school employees with the same whistleblower rights and protections as other employees in the state, and allow us to address class size during collective bargaining.
The MCPS BoE voted unanimously to oppose the family and medical leave insurance program the state is considering, also known as the Time to Care Act. According to www.marylandfamilynetwork.org, the bill “would make paid leave available to Maryland workers for up to 12 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child and when needed to provide care for a family member or oneself. The leave would be funded through an insurance pool, into which workers and their employers contribute.”
We are all aware of the stress unexpected circumstances can cause us as caregivers for our own families. At school, we see the impact of the same struggle by our students’ caregivers. Putting students first means giving parents the ability to care for their children when they need to.
How often have we had to remind the current school board that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions? Whistleblowing is vital in schools – it protects students, staff and the general public. In addition to preventing harm, whistleblowing encourages the early detection of fraud and misappropriation. State whistleblower laws were extended to public school employees in Maryland for the first time on October 1, 2017. However, we were not granted the full rights and protections afforded to other workers in the state.
HB1075 attempts to rectify that error. Yet, the MCPS Board opposes the legislation. They want to keep the current system in place that requires us to exhaust administrative remedies internal to the school district. The act of whistleblowing is nerve-racking enough without piling on layers of bureaucracy that only serve to discourage and delay the implementation of a solution.
HB1074 would repeal the current prohibition that prevents us from negotiating class size as part of collective bargaining. This is just another example of MCPS’s contempt, rather than the “collaboration” they espouse.
MCPS loves to talk about holding teachers accountable. With the primary elections coming up, it is our chance to hold the MCPS BoE accountable.
You can find a complete summary of the MCPS BoE recommendations to the state here.
Special Education Teacher
Jackson Road Elementary School