Letter: When We Prioritize Education Funding, We Make a Statement

Nena Anyanwu, a teacher at Dwight Eisenhower Middle School in Laurel, at a rally for more school funding in Annapolis earlier this year. Photo by Bruce DePuyt

To the Editor:

Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery) was absolutely right in her recent remarks on funding the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. She urged people to think about the critical
importance of investing in our children and our state by making the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission a reality.

“The budget isn’t numbers. It is a reflection of our
values,” she told a gathering in Montgomery County recently.

I couldn’t agree more. As the coordinator of the Paraeducator Program at Montgomery County Public Schools and someone who has spent years advocating for
fair and equitable school funding, this is self-evident. When we prioritize education funding, we make a statement that we are investing in our children, our communities,
and our economic future.

The upcoming legislative session is our chance to reinvigorate a state education system that has fallen behind since the recession. We have a rare opportunity to invest in world class educators – teachers and support staff – to teach and care for our children.

To be clear, this is an investment, and its returns will be felt as school employees live, work, shop, and pay taxes right here in our neighborhoods. We also can’t forget that the strong schools they build will be anchors, keeping and attracting businesses and families alike.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Anne Kaiser. General Assembly photo

In the same story, Del. Kaiser’s comments also identified certain revenue sources that could be used to fund our schools. Those include ending unneeded income tax credits for businesses, closing loopholes that allow many major corporations to pay nothing in Maryland income taxes and revamp our income tax system, so the wealthiest
Marylanders pay their fair share.

Changes like these can generate a significant portion of the funds needed to pay for the Kirwan plan, without adding to the burden on low- and medium-income Marylanders. I hope Del. Kaiser, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, as well as every other legislator in Annapolis, looks carefully at these revenue options.

Our state budget does indeed reflect our values. We are certain that Marylanders would value a fair investment to benefit our children and build a stronger economy.

— SALLY MUREK

The writer is vice president of the Paraeducator Chapter of SEIU Local 500.