Education Advocate
February 28, 2017 
#FixtheGap Rally Draws Thousands
1,000 Teacher Jobs at Stake But Mayor and Governor Have Not Yet Put Forth Plan
"You are not here begging. You are not here for a handout.
You are here for what you deserve." -Dr. Sonja Santelises 

More than 2,000 students, parents, teachers, advocates and community members converged on Lawyer's Mall in Annapolis last Thursday for the Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC) #FixtheGap Rally.

Our demand? That Governor Hogan, Mayor Pugh, and the Maryland General Assembly work together to close Baltimore City Schools' $130 million structural budget deficit for the '17-'18 school year, and sustain that funding until such time as the funding formula can be improved. 

The  ACLU's Frank Patinella, who also serves as one of the co-chairs of BEC, highlighted the state's cut to the education funding formula in 2008 and how it has led to City Schools' $130 million structure deficit. "The state's constitution guarantees an adequate education for city students," said Patinella. "By the state's own measure, funding falls short $290 million."

Highlights of the rally include Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Santelises, 2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year Sia Kriakakos, and Highlandtown Elementary School principal Nancy Fagan who each  spoke passionately about the need for  additional city and state funding to ensure that city students receive an excellent education.

Brayan and Katherine Banegas, siblings who came to Baltimore from Honduras and attend Commodore John Rodgers School spoke about the value of their  EOSL teachers. 
President of the PTA Council of Baltimore City Deb Demery led a group of parents on the stage, who described how the proposed budged cuts will affect their families.  

Mayor Pugh also took the podium, telling the crowd, "I will not let our school system down." A s she promised during her speech, she stood by state lawmakers during a press conference yesterday to commit  to work with Governor Hogan to fix the gap.

No Funding Plan Yet From Governor and Mayor

Yesterday, Mayor Pugh and state lawmakers announced that they are working on a funding plan but no details were provided. A spokesman for Governor Hogan also said that he is going to continue the dialogue with City Schools and the city delegation to find a solution. While the ACLU is encouraged by this collaboration, school communities across the city are in a state of crisis now and time is of the essence. City principals submitted their budgets yesterday, which reveal deep cuts to teachers citywide and ballooning class sizes.

The ACLU will continue to work with the Baltimore Education Coalition and allies to ensure that the Mayor and Governor provide additional funding to fix the city school system's $130 million gap expeditiously

Mayor Pugh promises to announce her plan to #FixtheGap.

Frank Patinella, Senior Education Advocate for the ACLU & BEC Co-Chair explains how the state cut to education in 2008 led to the school system's $130 million deficit. 

Rally emcees Tenee Thrower (Strong City) and Marshai Allen (student) get the crowd going with a chant, FIX THE GAP!
Elected officials also attended to support BEC. City officials: Mayor Catherine Pugh, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young, and council members Kristerfer Burnett, Mary Pat Clarke, Ryan Dorsey, Zeke Cohen, Robert Stokes and Brandon Scott. City Delegation Members: Del. Maggie McIntosh, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Del. Antonio Hayes, Del. Keith Haynes, Del. Luke Clippinger, Del. Sandy Rosenberg , Del. Robbyn Lewis, Del. Brooke Lierman, Del. Nick Mosby, and Sen. Bill Ferguson. County lawmakers: Sen. Rich Madeleno and Senator Roger Manno from Montgomery County , Del. Benjamin Brooks and Del. Shelly Hettleman from Baltimore County, Del. Jimmy Tarlau, Prince Georges County, and Del. Eric Ebersole, Baltimore and Howard Counties.

Legislative Update
Wednesday, Feb. 15 & Tuesday, Feb 21: The ACLU testified in support of  HB692/SB334-School Emergency Air Conditioning Fund  which would provide $7.5 million annually in state funding for four years to address schools without air conditioning. 

Tuesday, Feb. 28: The ACLU, along with partners the Maryland Coalition to Reform School Discipline, testified in support of HB1222-Maryland School Discipline Reform Act.

Friday, March 3: T he  ACLU of Maryland will testify in support of HB1287 - Commission on School to Prison Pipeline/Restorative Practices.