Well, we hear that last evening’s Board of Ed meeting was quite the affair. For a few weeks we have seen the anger over the possible elimination of 9th grade sports. We even signed the petition, because hey we love any and all opportunities for kids to showcase their unique talents. However, there were other things on the chopping block besides the $60,000 for the 9th grade sports program. We have to say we agree with this excerpt from the Frederick News Post:
“Board members had expressed bewilderment that more attention was not called to the academic programs the board was forced to cut. These encompass not only the class-size increase and a slash to class sections, but also a $204,000 reduction to summer school, $350,000 less for after-school or “extended learning” programs and $500,000 taken away for new textbooks.”
We here at Local Yokel appreciate our Board of Ed members and have to say we don’t envy their position. After all, they have no control of how much money is given to them. They are reliant on the State and Local governments to fund them. They then have to take that money and allocate it in a way that makes it impossible to make everyone happy. The county, under the new leadership of Jan Gardner, did fund the schools above the MOE level for the first time in years. Then the new state administration under Governor Hogan pulled back state funding. So, all in all, not a great year to be a BOE member.
It would be wonderful to see the BOE receive funding that would allow us to adequately fund arts and athletics and educational programs of all stripes. We would also like the teachers to be respected and fairly compensated for their time. A few of us here have experience in the education world, and people who express what they think they understand teachers do frequently underestimate the demands of the career and envision a professional situation very different from reality. In a perfect world, we would all value education enough to make sure it is successful.
The angry climate makes us fear that the teachers will be blamed for advocating for their own interests, and we have to believe that having them happy in their profession also benefits their students. We tire of disingenuous claims that COLA and step increases are raises. They are not, and the fact that these salary adjustments are made does not change the relative pay compared to neighboring counties, which makes Frederick County fall behind. We cannot continue to undervalue our teachers and recruit and retain talented educators.
We are speaking to all stakeholders when we make the following observations about education and extra curricular funding. Starving the BOE budget for years jeopardizes our school system. Schools can have effects on things such as crime and teen birth rates. Both things that drain financial resources from communities. In short, well-funded education is fiscally responsible.
Salary is not the only thing that makes teachers’ lives stressful, and in the current politicized climate surrounding education, teachers are being beaten down too harshly in many ways. Some states have already seen shortages of teachers. Maryland is not there yet, but the counties that do not stay competitive will clearly be the first to suffer.