Thousands gather in Annapolis for ‘March for our Schools’ rally
ANNAPOLIS, Md.- We can do it. Fund our schools. The time is now. These are some of the many phrases education advocates chanted in hopes of grabbing both the lawmakers and the governor’s attention.
“Every day is a challenge and a grind for us as teachers and if they can lighten the load for us we’ll be better off than where we are,” said Somerset County, Maryland teacher of the year Richard Warren.
The streets of Annapolis turned into a sea of red as thousands of demonstrators young and old marched for the future of their schools. Hoping lawmakers would listen to their plea that their schools need more funding, and they need it now.
“We need better funding for textbooks, for computers, to bring our students into the 21st-century like they should have already been,” said Somerset County Education Association president Vestina Davis.
Event organizers say Monday night’s rally was put on in response to a troubling report that the Kirwan Commission released in 2018 that showed Maryland public schools were continuously underfunded by $2.9 billion each year. Something educators say is affecting schools across the state and right here on the Eastern Shore.
“We know that there’s a teacher shortage throughout Maryland but on the Eastern Shore we are really feeling it. So we need to fund their teachers we need to get those salaries up we need to get the benefits up so that they will come and teach on the shore but also stay on the shore,” said Davis.
Last week, Maryland lawmakers took the first step in making sure public schools are adequately funded by introducing a bill that provides more than $1 billion in funding from the state budget over the next two years. But as to how the state will get that money, that’s what has local officials worried.
“If we don’t know what that is, it could have a very bad impact on the maintenance of effort that is required to pay for it by each county government, Worcester County included. And as you know we pay the highest per student anywhere in the state right now,” said Worcester County Commissioner Chip Bertino.
And as local lawmakers listen to each and every concern, they say no matter what happens, they’ll make sure the Eastern Shore is protected.
“I want to make sure no matter how we end up whatever funding formula we come up with that it is fair for the lower shore,” said Senator Mary Beth Carozza (R-District 38).