Educators Out in Force at Final Kirwan Commission Hearing

Addressing salary, class size, and poverty among top issues

They came in buses and in carpools. They came from down the road, over the Bay Bridge, and through rush hour traffic on the Beltway. At Wednesday night’s final Kirwan Commission public hearing, educators packed the room, stood in the aisles, and made their voices heard.

Here are some of the highlights of what they said:

“Low pay and assisting our students at hard to staff schools is overwhelming and increases teacher turnover. Our ask is that you focus on assisting us in meaningful improvements to…address the needs of our highest concentrations of poverty.” Theresa Dudley, Prince George’s County teacher and Prince George’s County Education Association president

“Class sizes matter because in my classroom there are 30 people whose stories matter. … Small class sizes reduce the gap between the highest and lowest achievers.” Allison Heintz, Anne Arundel County teacher

“Community schools should be the new norm in Maryland.” Sheena Washington, Prince George’s County teacher

“We have young, talented, and qualified teachers leaving the profession before they finish five years because they are burnt out before they even get a chance to hone their craft.” Liz Jones, Montgomery County teacher

“I have to take on a second job because I’m a second-year teacher. I’m asking for the ability to teach and to live.” Ryan Curry, Prince George’s County teacher

“As an educator, I know what my students need. Our kids deserve high quality schools with small class sizes.” Pam Bukowski, Anne Arundel County teacher and Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County vice president

A full room of other educators wore red, cheered on their colleagues, and held up “yes” signs to show their support.

And some even led their colleagues in chants:

The need to address the $3 billion in underfunding in our schools is clearly there. Hearings like this one show that the public support is also there. But educators and public education allies will need to keep the pressure up on elected officials to make sure that they support recommendations from the Kirwan Commission that are a true game-changer for all Maryland educators and students.

Thanks to Steven Hershkowitz.