Cheryl Bost says she will fight for full funding for public schools in Maryland.
Annapolis, Md (KM). There’s a new President of the Maryland State Education Association. Cheryl Bost officials took over the position on Wednesday.
Bost is an elementary school teacher in Baltimore County. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2003, partly for her work in establishing a summer camp for disadvantaged students. In addition, Bost was also President of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County from 2003-2012, and served as Vice President of the MSEA from 2012-2018. She succeeds Betty Weller as MSEA President.
In an interview with WFMD News, Bost says she taught at Mars Estates Elementary School in Essex when the state was planning to take it over due to low test scores. “So instead the community and the teachers and everybody came together and we came up with an alternate plan. And our plan worked,” she said. “We got additional social workers, school counselors, extra planning time, after school programs and summer school programs and we really did close the achievement gap between black and white students.”
Bost says she hopes to replicate that success in other parts of the state “by showing if we listen to the educators and the folks in each building, we can make true progress in our schools instead of the top-down decision making policy that we have now,” she says.
One of her goals as MSEA President is to increasing the fund for public schools in Maryland. Bost says the Kirwan Commission is looking at funding formulas and what is needed in schools. “And right now, there’s a study that says that our schools are underfunded by $3-billion. That’s $2-million per school,” she says.
“We will advocate for that funding so that we can increase teachers salaries and be competitive, provide a living wage for our support professionals, reduce class size and other needs,” says Bost. “That is a key goal of mine.”
Bost takes over the MSEA after the US Supreme Court ruled in the Janus decision that non-members of public employee unions, such as teachers’ unions, cannot be required to pay a fee to fund union activities, such as negotiating with school systems on salaries, benefits and other issues. “So we continue to build our membership and build our collective voice, and I’m hoping that as President to continue that trend, and do what’s right for public schools. So I don’t think the Janus case will negatively impact our organization. In fact, it may build support as the people see who are really funding these attacks on public education,” she says.
In fact, Bost says, many teachers union members are resisting efforts by other groups to encourage them to drop their union membership. “Our members, as we go across the state, are really irritated at e-mails and other campaigns to get them to drop because they know the strength of their organization helps them in their classrooms and helps their students,” she says.
WFMD News asked Bost why should non-members pay a fee to a union to which they don’t belong. “By Maryland law, we are required to represent in contractual issues non-members,” she responds. “So those that choose not to become a member, but benefit from the salary increases or working condition improvements, we believe they should pay a portion to receive those benefits.”
MSEA says it has 74,000 members.
By Kevin McManus