The only 5 districts whose students will attend school that day are Allegany, Charles, Garrett, Howard, and Montgomery counties.
Allegany lists the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) convention on their online calendar but it doesn’t appear to be a day off based on the rest of the days off on their calendar. Montgomery County students are attending school that day for the first time in recent history. Until this year, it was always a day off for both teachers and students.
Of the 19 school districts where students won’t attend that day, only 8 of them will have professional development days while 11 are closed completely. 7 of the 19 didn’t even disclose that the day off or the professional development day was related to the MSEA convention.
School board members, administrators, and even the MSEA have also opposed a recent policy enacted by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and long championed by State Comptroller Peter Franchot, which would mandate that public schools being their academic calendar after Labor Day every year. A recent Goucher College poll showed that 67% of Marylanders support this policy.
One of the arguments against the Hogan plan was that there wouldn’t be enough time after Labor Day to fit all 180 days in the classroom in before the June 15 end date included in the new policy.
Districts also want the power to set their own schedules and the teachers’ union and other unions are involved in that process as well. The school board members all want the MSEA endorsement so they can add the Teacher Approved line to campaign literature and signs.
In other words, the union and school districts are complicit in taking children out of the classroom so MSEA members can head to the beach for their convention.
More on the Maryland teachers’ union convention
I took a look at the convention website with the agenda and the schedule of workshops.
One workshop of note:
Social Justice Teaching: Weaving Social Justice Themes into Curriculum and Empowering Students
This interactive workshop will show how one world language teacher weaves issues of social justice, human and civil rights, race relations, inequality, and social consciousness into traditional units of language study. The presenter will also discuss how she integrates language acquisition skills in authentic ways into social justice lessons and units while still addressing the demands of the obligatory curriculum. Participants will explore opportunities to weave social justice themes/lessons into their own content areas. They will also examine how to develop students’ social justice consciousness and empower them to take social action. Room 203
Presenter: Erika Strauss Chavarria is a high school Spanish teacher and member of the NEA Discipline and School-to-Prison Pipeline and MSEA Human and Civil Rights committees. She is a board member of the Howard County Education Association (HCEA), chair of the HCEA Organizing Committee, and member of the Minority Affairs, and Government Relations committees.
In 2014, Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland wrote about teachers receiving paid professional development days to attend the MSEA convention. He noted that year there was a workshop on union organizing ahead of that year’s election:
How Do We Get What We Want? Organize!
Join us for this special session on organizing successfully in your building and local, whether the issue is professional, political, or your principal. This highly interactive session will be led by NEA organizing guru Floyd Cox, and will begin Friday at 1 p.m. in the Bayfront Ballroom. You won’t want to miss it!
It’s a concern that students are missing classroom time so teachers, in some cases who are paid for the day, can attend a union convention.