Posted on 24 March 2017
Calvert came out to the Board of Commissioners (BOCC) Budget Hearing on Tuesday night to show support for Calvert Education. The Calvert Education Association (CEA) hosted a rally and march before the hearing where 200 residents formed a “human bridge” along West Dares Beach Road from N Prince Frederick Blvd down towards Solomons Island Road.
Passersby were greeted with waves and cheers. Many drivers honked in support as they drove by inducing cheers and claps from the rally-goers. The CEA turned the rally into a march as the Budget Hearing approached, and those 200 people marched their way up West Dares Road to Calvert Pines to sign up to speak to our County Commissioners about fully funding the teachers’ contract and restoring the contractual losses the teachers have been incurring for years.
In a response to the nationwide economic downturn of 2009 which left Calvert County underfunded, the teachers of Calvert County accepted a drastic decrease in their contractual compensation. It was a one-year contract, and specifically stipulated that if additional money should come into the school system that is not needed for operating expenses, those funds would be used to raise the salaries to the previously negotiated levels. That has not yet happened.
Teachers, parents, students, spiritual leaders, and residents of all stripes came to the budget hearing on Tuesday night to ask the Commissioners to follow through on this promise and finally bring teachers’ (and supporting staff’s) salaries back up to what their contract stipulated. Dennis Mooney, president of the CEA, pointed out to the BOCC that its habitual decisions to short-change the teachers’ contracts has led to faculty attrition and an inability to attract the best new educators. There were several educators who spoke about their personal losses, as one teacher explained that, though she had been employed by CCPS for 30 years, she was only earning the salary of a 22-year veteran. Another woman addressed the BOCC by reading letters from teachers who wanted to attend the meeting but were prevented by the schedules of second jobs, a necessity of these circumstances.
Dona Ostenso, a 28-year veteran of Calvert County Public Schools, emphasized the reality that the unfunded contracts makes Calvert County undesirable to young, skilled teachers. She invoked the wisdom of Diane Ravitch, an historian and education expert, who once wrote, “You don’t improve education by demoralizing those who have to do the work every day.”
Calvert County has seen a relocation outside the county of 10% of its active teachers in the last 3 years and has moved from first to fifth place as preferred placement for new teachers. The loss of and inability to attract good teachers will quickly take its toll on the overall quality of education in the county. It is important to note that while this is true, that is not why teacher and support staff need to have their contracts fully funded. Educators in Calvert County are not asking for a pay raise; they are asking to be compensated according to what was contractually promised them. The BOCC needs to keep that promise.
For more pictures and videos, check out the CCDWC facebook page!