MICHAEL ERIN BUSCH, Speaker of House of Delegates
Democrat, District 30, Anne Arundel County
From workload woes to complaints about salaries, House Speaker Michael E. Busch heard it all.
The Annapolis Democrat, a former teacher in county public and private schools, spoke to members of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County on Saturday at Union Jack’s, three days after the start of the 2014 legislative session.
“We have two constitutional mandates — to balance the budget and adequately fund education,” Busch said, pointing out that Maryland’s state government is one of the few that contributes money toward school construction.
“You either fund education, or you don’t. It’s not a complex issue,” he said.
Some county teachers, though, told Busch funding still lags in some areas.
One, who said she had been teaching for 24 years, said Anne Arundel teachers can go to neighboring counties and earn far more. She said one teacher she knows recently left for a job in Calvert County, getting a raise of $11,000 per year.
“We are behind,” she said, as other teachers applauded.
Interim schools Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins’ fiscal 2015 budget proposal includes a 2 percent raise for all employees.
Last June, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted 8-1 to give employees raises that vary depending on the worker’s position and union representation.
In fall 2012, according to the state Department of Education, the average teacher in Anne Arundel County earned $61,643 per year. Statewide, the average salary was $64,248.
The salary concerns, coupled with growing stress over workload, have many teachers wanting to flee the profession, several educators said.
Teachers aired similar concerns Thursday night at a hearing in Annapolis on the school budget.
Retired teacher Lois Nicoletti told Busch she spent so much time documenting student progress and collecting data she felt she had no time for actual instruction.
“When was I supposed to teach?” Nicoletti said.
Another teacher, a 42-year veteran of the profession, said he has never seen it as tough as it is right now, particularly with this year’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards for curriculum.
Richard Benfer, TAAAC’s president, told Busch that before the meeting he asked one teacher how she was doing. She got so emotional she had to walk away, Benfer said.
A teacher in the audience began to sniffle.
“It’s kind of ridiculously crazy,” Benfer said.
After the gathering, Busch said he expects state lawmakers to look at Common Core and figure out its strengths and weaknesses. The Anne Arundel County delegation is scheduled to hold a meeting on Common Core on Jan. 28 in Annapolis.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t even know how we adopted Common Core,” Busch said. “But I think it’s always good to review.”
“All these people here are dedicated, and they want to see the system work.”