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Legislative Report for AFT Maryland Members, 2024

2024 Legislative Report AFT Maryland

AFT Maryland
2024 Legislative Report

Denise Riley, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs
Todd Reynolds, Political Coordinator


Grow Your Own

There is exciting news for non-certified education support professionals (ESP) in Maryland, as the “Grow Your Own” legislation nears approval, needing only the governor’s signature. This legislation, a component of Governor Moore’s 2023 Maryland Educator Shortage Reduction Act, has been amended and refined to create a Grow Your Own Educators Grant Program.

This legislation will help nurture a diverse teacher workforce while it addresses the critical shortage and teacher retention rates. By establishing the Grow Your Own Educators Grant Program, Maryland creates another path to teacher certification for ESPs, particularly paraprofessionals who aspire to become certified teachers.

Eligible local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and educators' unions will receive grants to facilitate the implementation of Grow Your Own. This will help foster community engagement and strengthen the ties between educational institutions. Maryland will pave the way for a brighter future, where every aspiring educator, regardless of background or circumstance, has the opportunity to thrive and make a meaningful impact in the lives of students.

Active Shooter Safety Drills or Trainings

In a landmark move to prioritize the mental well-being of students and school personnel, the Maryland Legislature has passed a bill that sets stringent guidelines for active shooter drills and trainings in schools. Recognizing the potential trauma associated with these exercises, the legislation mandates a series of measures aimed at mitigating their adverse effects while ensuring preparedness.

The bill prohibits active shooter drills or trainings from including activities that may be traumatic for students or school personnel. This includes loud sounds imitating gunshots or explosions and live exercises involving role-playing as an active shooter or victim. Local school systems are required to notify parents in advance of any active shooter drills or trainings. Moreover, they must provide mental health follow-up to both students and school personnel post-drill.

The bill mandates the collection of data on the effectiveness and psychological impact of these drills or training, with reporting to the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS) for further analysis. MCSS is then mandated to collaborate with higher education or research entities to study the effectiveness and psychological impact of active shooter safety drills.

By July 1, 2025, MCSS will develop, in consultation with the Department of State Police (DSP), model content informing parents of the State’s firearm storage laws. Each local school system must distribute this model content to parents at the beginning of each school year, ensuring awareness and compliance with firearm storage regulations.

The Active Shooter Safety Drills or Trainings bill, on the governor’s desk, implements trauma-sensitive measures, data collection, and the education of parents on firearm safety. In this way, the state is taking proactive steps towards safer and more supportive learning environments.

Blueprint Bills

AFT Maryland is a member of the Blueprint Coalition that works to oversee the progress and make any needed adjustments to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. During the 2024 Legislative Session, AFT Maryland worked on two bills that the Coalition supported. One is for alterations to Community Schools, and the other is the Teacher Development and Retention Program. Both have passed in the legislature and are waiting on Gov. Wes Moore’s signature.

Community Schools

Community Schools offer wrap-around services for the school’s neighborhood to help address the needs of students and the community as a whole. The legislation addresses several key areas including the flexible use of Concentration of Poverty grants. It also mandates greater accountability and collaboration between the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and local school authorities. This ensures that development, approval, and evaluation of Community Schools implementation plans are conducted with clarity and inclusivity.

The Teacher Development and Retention Program

The Teacher Development and Retention Program is an initiative designed to bolster the state's teaching profession. The primary aim is to include individuals enrolled in any Maryland community college, to help diversify the pool of prospective educators and address teacher shortages in high-needs areas.

The program offers financial support in the form of stipends. These stipends are intended to incentivize participants to commit to teaching in high-needs schools identified by MSDE. The stipends will be given to participants who enroll in a teacher preparation program in public schools. The stipend, up to $20,000, supports participants during a 10-month educator internship.

The expansion of eligibility for the Teacher Development and Retention Program aims to attract and retain talented educators who will make an impact on students and communities.

At a time where the stakes for education have never been higher, it is vital that we support innovative approaches that prioritize the holistic well-being of our students and communities. By championing initiatives like Community Schools and The Teacher Development and Retention Program, AFT Maryland helps build a more equitable and inclusive educational environment for all Marylanders.



Collective Bargaining for Supervisors

AFT Maryland is committed to enhancing workplace rights and fostering fair labor practices. Our work, in conjunction with labor allies, resulted in a new bill dismantling the existing provision that excludes most supervisory state employees within Executive Branch agencies (excluding higher education institutions) from participating in collective bargaining. This significant change paves the way for these employees to exercise their right to collectively bargain. The legislation, waiting on Gov. Moore’s signature, underscores a commitment to equitable workplace practices and represents a step forward in empowering supervisory employees across the state.

Expanded Leave for the Death of a Child

This legislation introduces a compassionate measure to support state workers coping with the devastating loss of a child. The bill establishes a paid parental bereavement leave program, offering a crucial lifeline to state employees navigating this profound loss. Under this program, bereaved individuals receive two weeks of fully paid leave to help them adjust and begin the grieving process.

For those experiencing a stillbirth or losing a child before six months, the bill ensures eligibility for the state's parental leave policy. This allows affected employees to take the necessary time off to recuperate both physically and emotionally. In the event of the loss of a child aged between six months and 21 years, employees are entitled to ten paid days off.

While we hope that no state employee ever needs to avail themselves of this leave, the reality is that tragedies occur. By implementing a generous, dedicated, and easily accessible bereavement leave program, Maryland demonstrates its commitment to supporting its workforce during times of profound sorrow.

Enhanced Pay Rate for Teachers of Forensic Population

AFTMaryland submitted legislation to enhance the pay rate for teachers employed at Maryland Department of Health facilities serving a forensic population. The educators covered by this bill are professionals who currently receive compensation that lags behind their counterparts in city and county schools. This bill rectifies this disparity by aligning the pay scale of teachers in state mental hospitals with other essential personnel, such as nurses who provide care for juvenile patients, whose mental and behavioral health complications may manifest in impulsive and assaultive behavior. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.



Baltimore Regional Water Governance Model Workgroup

AFT Maryland fought for, and won, two labor seats on the Baltimore Regional Water Governance Model Workgroup. The legislation establishing the workgroup passed both houses of the General Assembly and is awaiting Gov. Moore’s signature. The workgroup will continue the work done by the similarly named task force created last session to explore alternative governance models for the Baltimore water and sewer utilities.



Thanks to the activism of our members, AFT Maryland fought to restore funding to the State’s community colleges. Although we believe any cut to community college funding is too much, we were able to stave off drastic cuts that would have been devastating to Maryland community colleges. 

Last year, for the very first time, the State fully funded the Cade formula for Maryland’s higher education institutions. The Senator John R. Cade formula bases funding on the percentage of full-time enrolled students (FTES) at community colleges. However, for 25 years, the State decreased or delayed full funding, which resulted in shortchanging community colleges compared to public four-year colleges.

The State FY25 budget proposal would have cut $22 million in funding for community colleges. After substantial push-back, the General Assembly restored $10 million. This translates into a 2.2% decrease from fiscal year 2024 instead of 5%, as initially proposed. This also maintains funding levels while the State studies ways to update and modernize the Cade funding formula.


AFT Maryland pushed to get two studies into the Budget which could improve work experiences of our members. One such study examines the ability of state employees to work a 4-day week. We expect the results of the study to show a four-day work week is beneficial to workers and efficient for the State. 

The other study is on the pay of Education Support Personnel. Our goal is to get the information needed on pay discrepancies between local school districts for PSRPs and non-instructional employees.


AFT Maryland Opposed Bills

AFT Maryland led the fight to stop legislation that would take certain supervisors in community colleges out of collective bargaining units. We were able to quickly assemble a coalition of unions that would be affected by the bill. The coalition’s effectiveness in stopping this bill means that members who are supervisors who would have been affected will remain in their collective bargaining units. 


April 19, 2024
Written by AFT Maryland Staff

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