Trone conversation on education meeting

Rep. David Trone (D-Md.), far left, hosts a conversation about education Monday night at the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ in downtown Frederick. With Trone are, from the left, Board of Education member Karen Yoho, student member of the board Malachi Macon, Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, William “Brit” Kirwan, chair of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, and Robert Ruffins, a representative of the Education Trust.

The work of the Kirwan Commission and the topic of equity dominated a panel discussion that featured local, state and federal representatives speaking on education in Maryland.

The panel was made up of Frederick County Board of Education member Karen Yoho; student board member Malachi Macon; William “Brit” Kirwan, chair of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education; Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association; and Robert Ruffins, a representative of the Education Trust.

“There is nothing more important than education in America,” Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) said as he introduced the panel at an event Monday night in downtown Frederick.

The panelists focused on the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations, which are currently before the Maryland General Assembly under the formal name Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

“There is this myth that [Maryland schools] are in good shape, but what the commission discovered is that we have all sorts of problems,” Kirwan said. “We have high confidence that if we implement these recommendations, we can transform our schools and build a bright future for all of our children.”

Many panelists advocated raising teacher pay.

“Marylanders understand that our teachers aren’t paid enough and so a key component of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is to increase wages ... because we want to attract and retain the best and brightest in the field,” Bost said.

Teacher pay has continued to be a point of discussion locally. At a school board meeting on the proposed budget in early February, FCPS teachers came out in force to ask for higher salaries and reiterated that the county is losing teachers to other areas of the state due to pay.

Macon said teachers are critical to overall student success.

“At the end of the day, a good teacher can make even the most boring class enjoyable,” Macon said. “They are motivators to keep you going and help you succeed.”

One audience member said while supporting teachers is great, he is concerned about the support given to students of color.

Ruffins, who is a senior associate of national and state partnerships with the Education Trust, said there is a unique opportunity to addressing equity through the Kirwan recommendations.

“Too often, we talk about a thing called the achievement gap when actually it’s an opportunity gap. ... This bill is going to provide a model for how we can allocate the additional resources we have, more intelligently,” Ruffins said, adding that accountability will be a key piece.

“Making sure the resources are getting to the students, we have to seize this moment and we have to make sure that there is accountability from the top and grassroots level,” he said.

Frederick County Teachers Association President Melissa Dirks, who attended the event, said equity is important but that a big piece of that, again, is teachers and recruiting a diverse workforce.

“There are fewer teachers of color ... and those candidates are highly sought after,” Dirks said. “And when they can live in Frederick but make $20,000 more starting out in Montgomery or Howard, they’re going there and all our kids are suffering because of it.”

Trone said he hoped attendees understood that both education in general and the Kirwan bill should be a top priority.

“This is all about our children, and if we don’t get that right, then we have failed as adults,” Trone said. “We’re all in this together and it has to happen and move forward and move forward now.”

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(20) comments


$3.8 Billion dollars per year? No, and that's going to be a non-starter for taxpayers. Decide what level of priority this is and do a Pareto chart. Something else will need to go. When the budget money runs out, you don't fund anything else. We would all like the best of the best, whatever it is, whenever we want it, without considering resources, but that is childish magical thinking. As des stated below, we are already in the top 5 taxed states, and do not support a promotion into the upper echelons. Finishing first is not always a virtue, especially for taxes.


I agree we need to have the best education possible. I don't agree that we need to support other counties that do not tax property sufficiently to pay for THEIR schools. They need to face up to THEIR problems, same as Frederick County has done.

As far as minority teachers going to MOCO to get more money, why blame them. And just how does that hurt Frederick County? I think that is a lot of nonsense!


Let 'em go! The commuting costs will eat up that difference quickly, and there will be three hours out of their life wasted in their daily commute. The grass is always greener over the septic tank.




If the Gov can veto this he should. Regardless, the idea that money is the solution here is laughable. Been there, done that. We're already in the top 5 state tax-wise. We don't need to vie with California, NY and Massachusetts thanks.




The higher teacher pay and the cost of education goes up, the lower the quality of education. Unless you do the statistics trick and lower the standards. That makes everyone look like they moved up.


“The higher teacher pay and the cost of education goes up, the lower the quality of education”. Do explain to me how you made this correlation. Ad nauseam - There is a massive teacher shortage. Teacher programs across the country report a marked drop in teaching candidates. Why? Low pay. It’s impossible for teachers to support themselves, much less a family, on a pittance. The lack of respect, and bulldozer parents, drive teachers away from the classroom. On to sufficient classroom materials: Most teachers spend their own money to help supply their classrooms. I could go on, and on. Just once, I’d like to see the BOE budget fully funded. The results might be interesting - and positive.


Its because the economy is booming ll, not the "low" pay. 46k to start for 40 weeks work isn't exactly low pay.

Having to deal with the behaviors of other people's kids is what stinks about teaching, not the pay or the benefits. We get compensated for putting up with bs that most grown ups wouldn't put up with and we are compensated well. It still doesn't mean it's an easy job- not by a long shot. Most leave teaching because their self-respect can't take it, not cause they feel undercompensated.


46K to start doesn't seem too bad, and is more than many other jobs pay right out of college. What are the incremental increases that come with experience?


Most teachers can do well in the business world, Dave. You only put up with BS from other people's kids because you want to.


Ever teach dick? Ain't as easy as you seem to think. Kids and parents used to respect the teacher's authority, but no more.


Do you have ANY idea of the number of the extra hours that teachers put in beyond the school day? Staying late to plan, grade, and talk with parents. An insane amount of hours over the weekend to grade, and prepare. Workshops, classes, “volunteering” to chaperone school events. Over the summer, teachers work in their classrooms preparing for the school year. Every now, and then teachers would implement “work to rule”. This meant that teachers only worked within the parameters of the teaching contract. Planning, grading, tutoring, talking to parents, talking to administration, workshops....... and things would fall apart. It was the proverbial train wreck. Teachers would put stickers on the materials that they purchased with their own money. It was a sea of stickers. Teachers are ever hopeful that they’ll get sufficient pay, and materials Teachers only work 40 weeks a year...... No, that’s 100% myth. I DARE you to teach for a day..... just one day.


46,000 divided by 40 equals a gross of 1,150 per week. Add in taxes, health insurance, living expenses, etc. and tell me this isn't a tough budget to live on. If an educator takes it spread out over a year, 46,000 divided by 52 = 885 per week. Tell me again how easy it is for a beginning educator to find a place to live, pay taxes and living expenses.


llrowse - [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Easy for those who never spend time in a classroom to downplay the importance of a quality educator.


Several years back, in researching this issue, I found data (derived from government sources) demonstrating that from 1970-2010, the number of K-12 students in the US remained relatively stable, while the number of school employees doubled, spending (inflation adjusted) tripled....and test scores remained flat. Don't know about the last decade, but it would be nice to have some more recent data. It would also be nice for someone in Frederick County government to provide data on teacher salaries (starting, mean, and top) throughout the years (adjusted for inflation) and compare these with FC average income levels (personal and family) over the same period. That would provide a firmer basis for deciding how to proceed.


The data IS available to the public. Ask the the BOE, or Fred gov’t for the URL. Just out of curiosity, what do you do, and how much do you get paid?


glen - one of the issues with "teaching" is that it is an art and the only way politicians and non-educators can think to measure success is " test scores." That is not the sole measure of successful teaching and/or education.


LL - I'm glad the data ARE available. But there's a big difference between mere availability and active dissemination. It's the job of government and the media to present the data to the public as germane to the larger conversation. The FNP lacks either the will or the ability to do the necessary research when preparing these articles. As to what I do and what I earn...that's left as an exercise for the student. Finally, I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of teachers. I want to treat them fairly, but I'm suspicious of the intense lobbying on their behalf. See my LTE from 2006:


ricc - give some proof for this statement...

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