The AFT-Maryland welcomed eight candidates (Elizabeth Embry, Calvin Young, Sheila Dixon, David Warnock, Cindy Walsh, Nick Mosby, Carl Stokes, and Catherine Pugh) for mayor of Baltimore to a standing room only members forum, where they had an opportunity to address members' concerns, including education spending, school board appointment, collective bargaining for city employees, and the sale of public utilities.
Another interesting topic was the state’s financial commitment to Baltimore City Public Schools. Some candidates suggested the state’s assessment of property values in the city was wrong. Whatever the calculation methods, the city is expected to receive about $24 million dollars less than last year. This reduction comes on the heels of the unrest in the city after the death of Freddie Gray and a call for more resources and opportunities for Baltimore city youth.
Those calls for resources and opportunities have been answered by AFT-Maryland and their partners with the community school strategy. A majority of the candidates supported the idea of community schools and promised to expand them across the city. Some candidates argued that older and out-of-use school buildings should be community hubs for everything from mental health and wellness to technology centers.
The question of testing also came up and every candidate agreed that test results should not be included in teacher evaluation. Each mentioned the proliferation of testing and a need to scale that back to only the necessary standardized test. Some candidates also mentioned a need to stop teachers from “teaching to the test”.
Members had a chance to converse with many of the candidates following the forum. Some candidates passed out literature, others expanded on points made during the forum. Members were appreciative of the chance to hear directly from the candidates. They were also encouraged to fill out and return a survey of their preference of the candidates so AFT-Maryland can represent the members' will to Metropolitan Baltimore AFL-CIO during the mayoral endorsement process.
There will be candidate forums for City Council Thursday Feb. 4 (Districts 2, 3, 12, & 13) Wednesday Feb. 10 (Districts 1, 8, 9, 10, & 11) and Tuesday Feb. 16 (Districts 4, 5, 6, 7, & 14). More information on these events can be found on our website.