The Maryland State Board of Education is moving forward with plans to elect a teacher member to the panel after some changes at the behest of the state’s largest teachers’ union.
The board voted Tuesday to approve emergency regulations that would allow a statewide teacher election to be held in time for a new teacher member to join the board by Jan. 1.
Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost opposed language in draft regulations that would have required teachers seeking to run for the board to get a signature from their superintendent as part of the application process.
“All of you were not required to get your employer’s permission to serve on this board,” Bost said to the board on Tuesday morning.
And, when it came time to vote on the emergency regulations later in the afternoon, board members agreed.
The state board agreed that teachers seeking nomination to the board should not have to get a signoff from their superintendent, but will be required to notify the superintendent’s office that they are seeking the position, which could result in loss of classroom time.
The board also agreed that the regulations should specify that teacher nominees for the position must be Maryland residents working at Maryland schools who spend at least 30 percent of their time in classroom teaching.
Teachers must nominate themselves for the position and, as part of the nomination process, pass a background check, submit three letters of support, and get HR confirmation of their classroom teaching status.
After the board’s vote on Tuesday, Bost and state Del. Eric Ebersole (D-Baltimore and Howard) said they remained concerned about the extensive criteria required for the teacher member and said it was more onerous than for other board appointees.
“It felt more like a college application to me than a process to run for elected office,” said Ebersole, who sponsored legislation passed by the General Assembly creating new positions on the board for a teacher and a parent.
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) allowed the bill to become law, but did not sign it.
The governor vetoed an earlier version of the bill in 2018, which would have selected the teacher member through nominations by the Maryland State Education Association and Baltimore Teachers Union, which prompted Ebersole and other lawmakers to reintroduce the bill with an elections process instead.
“I think getting at least one teacher’s voice on the Board of Education is very important,” Ebersole said Tuesday evening.
The bill requires Maryland’s governor to appoint the winner of the election among teachers. The nominee will then be subject to confirmation by the Maryland Senate.
The parent member of the board must have a student actively enrolled in a public school. Parent members will be chosen by the governor from a list of three qualified candidates submitted by the Maryland PTA. That nominee is also subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The nomination process for the teacher member position is expected to open as early as next week, based on a tentative scheduled discussed by the board in June.
“There is excitement that there is going to be a teacher member of the state board,” Bost said. “…Having at least one active teacher on the board will be beneficial to the entire board and state board members’ decision-making process – to have someone that is in the classroom, sees what’s happening and can share perspectives with them.”
Because the regulations were passed through an emergency process, they will remain in place for 180 days before being revisited. Board members and education officials said more necessary changes to the regulations could become apparent after the first election process.