BTU Members Testify to get Bargaining for Class Size

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Class sizes make a huge difference in an educator’s ability to reach and connect with their students. Unfortunately for Maryland educators however, class sizes are non-negotiable and cannot be collectively bargained. House Bill 890 (HB890) seeks to change that. While a number of education professionals and advocates from across the state offered testimony detailing how necessary this legislation is for classroom instructors, the most visually compelling testimony came from AFT-Maryland members in the Baltimore Teachers Union (Local 340). 

BTU member Nathan Ferrell testifies via Zoom on the challenges of overcrowded classrooms.

BTU members Kelly Hope, Nathan Ferrell, and Zach Carey each passionately detailed why classroom size was so vital to their instruction. Hope provided an anecdote describing the number of students she’s responsible for and the attention each student deserves. In that anecdote she told legislators that she’s responsible for over 100 students and of that group more than 40 were absent, necessitating calls home on account of their absence. This compounds an already intense workload that educators in Baltimore city carry. Ferrell testified virtually from his classroom to demonstrate the physical challenges of overcrowded classrooms. He also noted that large class sizes disrupt an educator’s ability to grade, give high quality personalized feedback, and address student progress, among other challenges. Carey, a science teacher in Baltimore city, asked the committee to imagine trying to conduct science experiments with nearly 40 middle school students in a classroom and to anticipate the challenges that would bring. 

Opposition to the bill centers on the recent Blueprint For Maryland’s Future legislation not allocating additional funds for increased staff to accommodate smaller class sizes. Moreover, critics say smaller class sizes are not supported in the current capital or operating budgets. AFT-Maryland, BTU, and other education advocates will continue the fight to get class sizes collectively bargained and more resources to our schools to accommodate this need that will benefit educators and the students they serve.