Hundreds of parents, teachers, and activists gathered at Waverly Elementary School last night to organize opposition to Gov. Larry Hogan's announced plan to cut $35.5 million in funding for Baltimore City Public Schools. (Disclosure: My wife is a teacher in the city school system.)
Schools CEO Gregory Thornton spoke forcefully to the assembled crowd about the need to oppose the cuts, which amount to $561 per student and could mean a loss of more than 400 teachers and 700 support staff in the system, according to organizers. The Baltimore Education Coalition—which encompasses more than 20 organizations including the ACLU of Maryland, the League of Women Voters, and the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance—sponsored the event, billed as a Legislative Preview.
After hearing from Thornton and representatives from several of the groups in the coalition, the crowd broke into groups by legislative district to discuss ways to organize opposition to the cuts. Names, phone numbers, and Twitter handles of legislators were distributed, along with preprinted postcards adressed to Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller, and House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch demanding they "restore education funding!"
"It's absolutely devastating," Mary Ann Mears, a parent sitting in the 41st District meeting, said of the cuts. "It just should not be allowed to happen."
Organizers planned future events, including a calling campaign to raise awareness about the cuts, and weekly trips to Annapolis to pressure lawmakers to restore the funding before the final budget is voted on in early April.