Maryland Gov. Wes Moore highlighted an Oakdale High School teacher Wednesday during his first State of the State address at the Maryland State House in Annapolis.
In calling on the legislature to pass the Maryland Educator Shortage Act, which he said would strengthen the statewide pipeline of qualified educators and create new pathways to address the shortage of teachers, Moore looked up to the House of Delegates chamber gallery to acknowledge Ronnie Beard, a social studies teacher and track coach at Oakdale who grew up in Frederick and now lives in Columbia.
“Maybe no Marylander exemplifies the untapped potential of this type of policy [better] than Ronnie Beard,” Moore, D, said during the address.
Beard aspired to work as a juvenile counselor. But, while studying at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Beard determined he wanted “to help kids avoid problems before they ever started,” Moore said.
Through a Maryland homegrown recruitment program, Beard was introduced to teaching, got a scholarship and pursued a career in education. Moore called Beard a leader in Frederick, saying he helps recruit other talented teachers to fill gaps in the school system.
“Ronnie’s story of using an alternative pathway toward a rewarding profession is a guide to how we grow our state,” Moore said.
Zooming on the roadWhen Del. Christopher “Eric” Bouchat meets with his fellow lawmakers, he wants to see them.
Bouchat, a Republican in his first term representing Frederick and Carroll counties, called out a fellow lawmaker for not showing his face during a virtual meeting.
Sen. William “Bill” Folden, R-Frederick, has been tuning into Frederick County delegation meetings with his video off.
“Nothing against Sen. Folden, but I think it behooves the public to see all their delegation members on their video participating at all times. I don’t appreciate any of the delegation members blacking themselves out during this hearing,” Bouchat said during a Jan. 27 meeting.
Delegation chair Del. Jesse Pippy, R-Frederick, said the General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Services asked that delegation members have cameras on during Zoom meetings to comply with the Maryland Open Meetings Act. But, he said, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
“Folks are in different places at different times. So, there should be a little bit of flexibility to help members out,” Pippy said.
During the meeting, Bouchat, sporting a black shirt, white vest and a tie, sat with a portrait of former President Abraham Lincoln on the wall behind him, peering over the delegate’s shoulder into the camera.
In responding to Bouchat, Folden, an assistant chief of police for the University of Maryland, Baltimore Police Department, turned his camera on for a moment, showing that he was in uniform, with sunglasses on his forehead, and driving.
“I’ll show everybody my ugly, handsome — not really handsome — face. I’m driving. Just like I was last week,” Folden said.
Folden said he would be violating the law if he had his video on while driving. He also said Dea Daly, the ethics counsel for the Department of Legislative Services, told him that having his video off during the virtual meeting wouldn’t warrant an ethics ruling.
“So, would you rather, Del. Bouchat, me not be here?” he said.
In response to an email from the News-Post asking whether members must have cameras on during virtual meetings and if there were potential ethics violations, Daly wrote, “My practice is not to publicly opine on the propriety or impropriety of a specific member’s actions.”
Maryland law prohibits drivers from using a cellphone without a hands-free device, according to the Motor Vehicle Administration. The fine is $40 for a first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses, the MVA website states.
In ending the conversation and moving the meeting forward, Pippy said, “We would rather you be safe on the road than be looking at all of us. We can talk offline about it, no sweat.”
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