Diane Bernard, Public News Service – MD
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – As children go back to school Tuesday, almost all Maryland teachers say they pay for some school supplies out of their own pockets – and about half work a second job to have the money to do so.
Those statistics are from a new poll of 800 Maryland State Education Association members commissioned by the teachers’ union.
Cheryl Bost, a Baltimore elementary school teacher, and MSEA president says teachers are spending more than ever on their classrooms.
“Last year, when we did the same survey, it was 91% putting money into their classrooms and now, it’s gone up to 94%,” she states. “And before, it used to be maybe a wish list. We’re hearing from our teachers more and more it’s the needs – things that they just really need to do their jobs.”
To help ease the financial burden, Maryland lawmakers this year passed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a bill that increased teacher salaries by 4.5%.
Another recent national poll found teachers spend an average of $459 a year on school supplies. In Maryland, it’s $492.
A panel formed in 2018 known as the Kirwan Commission found that Maryland’s school system was underfunded by almost $3 billion, and said the system was especially failing students in low-income neighborhoods.
That led lawmakers to put forward the Blueprint bill, which passed the Maryland Senate by a 43-to-1 vote. The bill calls for injecting a little over $1 billion into Maryland schools, Bost says.
“But that won’t sustain us,” she stresses. “We really need to change the year-old funding formulas, recognizing the new needs of our students.
“We have more students living in concentrated poverty in every district in this state; it’s not just one. And that takes additional funding.”
Despite bipartisan support, the bill went into effect without a signature from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who balked at its cost.
The 2020 General Assembly, which starts in January, will decide how to divide up the costs between state and local budgets.