MAKING OUR SCHOOLS #1 IN THE COUNTRY
Every child in Maryland deserves to go to a high quality, world-class school where they can learn, thrive and feel prepared for a successful future. Joe will work to address the racial, geographic and socioeconomic inequities that exist in our education system, from disparities in graduation rates to under-investment in schools to unacceptably low teacher pay. Our state’s future starts with implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a plan that gives us hope for the future of our education system.
Implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future: The Blueprint will provide critical support to lower income and special needs students, improve educator salaries, attract new talent to Maryland schools, and expand educational programs from Pre-K to career prep. Joe helped organize in support of the legislature’s override of Governor Hogan’s veto. As Delegate, he will be a strong proponent for fully funding the Blueprint and implementing its recommendations.
Attracting and Retaining the Best Teachers: Montgomery County schools are seeing a concerning number of educators retiring and leaving the school system. Teacher retention and recruitment will be critical in the years ahead. Joe believes having experienced, diverse teachers in classrooms is key to student success. Joe will work to increase teacher salaries, provide support for teachers interested in pursuing advanced degrees, encourage diverse representation in leadership at the school administrative and county levels, and pursue expanded debt forgiveness programs to attract teachers in high-need communities and subjects.
Supporting a “Community Schools” Model: Every community faces unique challenges, and only a more tailored approach can provide the solutions each community needs. Community Schools offer the chance to provide an individualized, holistic response to the specific strengths and barriers in each community. Building out the Blueprint’s Community Coordinator system and supporting the creation of grant programs to develop and support planning of local community schools will be key steps to supporting the holistic wellbeing of students.
Establishing tutoring programs and other wrap-around supports: Many students require support beyond the traditional classroom. I will work to invest in and facilitate additional support by working with educators to identify and secure access to supplemental learning platforms and resources, allocating greater funding to special education staff across the state, and funding after-school tutoring programs by teachers and a corps of community hires.
Legacies of the Pandemic
Providing real mental health support in schools to students and staff: The current ratio of students to counselors in Maryland schools is 369 to 1, well over the recommended 250 to 1 ratio. Expanding the number of counselors and ensuring they are properly trained in mental health support must be a priority. Furthermore, similar options must be made available to staff members who so often are left out of consideration in such calculations. Addressing the shortage of providers must be a top priority. This is why Joe will champion a targeted debt relief program for mental health providers who choose to work in our schools.
Ensuring equitable access to technology and internet: Access to the internet is essential for students, as it is necessary to access schoolwork, apply for college, search for jobs, and connect with classmates. The Digital Connectivity Act was an important step in addressing a lack of internet access. As Delegate, I will ensure the Office of Rural Broadband as the Office of Statewide Broadband continues to receive adequate funding. Furthermore, ensuring that digital literacy training is available to schools and adults of all ages is critical to ensuring no one in Maryland is left behind.
Providing Free, Revamped Community College to All Marylanders: The cost of higher education has risen far beyond the reach of too many Marylanders. I am committed to fixing this injustice, and community colleges are the perfect place to start. Two year community colleges, if focused on delivering key technical training certifications and onramps to traditional four-year institutions, can be exactly what many Marylanders need to secure jobs in the most important sectors of our economy.
Offering Targeted Student-debt Forgiveness: As someone currently dealing with student loan debt, I understand the burden these loans put on our youngest generation as it tries to find its footing after college. We need to continue advocating for debt relief at the Federal level, but in the meantime I believe we should start offering relief in a targeted manner to attract educators, mental health practitioners, and other high demand young professionals to our state.
Education is the key to making real the American Dream that for too many people has become a myth. Our state once boasted the best education system in the country, and I am committed to bringing us back to those heights.
Joe is proud to have earned the endorsement of the Montgomery County Education Association and SEIU 500 in this race.