Marylanders rally for workers' rights, education funding

March 08, 2011

From Cairo to Madison, we've seen thousands rally in the Middle East and the Midwest in recent weeks. And on the evening of March 14, we'll see thousands more rally in the Mid-Atlantic — right here in Maryland, on the steps of the State House in Annapolis.

Luckily, we do not live in a state where we must rally for democracy or to preserve the most basic rights of workers. We live in a state whose democratic tradition is rich and whose respect for workers' rights has strengthened our middle class, improved our quality of life and enabled the crucial collaboration and support which have made our public schools No. 1 for three years in a row.

Yet on March 14, thousands of Marylanders will come to Annapolis to make our voices heard. We'll rally to make sure that our elected officials keep the promises that they've made to our schools, our educators and public employees, and our communities. We'll rally to prevent devastating cuts to public education and the retirement security of teachers, police, health care workers, librarians and many more hard-working Marylanders. We'll rally because our educators — our "nation-builders," as Gov. Martin O'Malley and President Obama are fond of calling them — and our hard-working public employees should be able to retire without the creeping fear of how they'll ever be able to make ends meet.

And with public opinion squarely on our side, we won't be alone. A recent poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that an overwhelming 82 percent of Maryland voters oppose the proposed $100 million cut in education funding. The poll also found that rather than the cuts-only approach that some elected officials have taken to the budget, a clear majority support a balanced approach that produces new revenue to protect the services that voters care about. Marylanders know that they have great public schools and public services in their state, and they want to preserve and enhance them so that our state continues to be a great place to build a business, educate a child and raise a family.

On March 14, we'll rally with dozens of other community and advocacy groups. Together, we'll rally to preserve a great future for our state and our children. We'll rally to prevent the burden for paying the bill of a recession caused by Wall Street CEOs from falling on thousands of middle class families. We'll rally to prevent cuts in services to the communities that need them the most. Simply put, we'll rally because we know that our work to make tomorrow better must begin today. On March 14, we'll rally for all of us. We invite you — we urge you — to join us.

Clara Floyd, Patrick Moran, Rion Dennis and Jessica Shiller

The writers are president of the Maryland State Education Association; executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Maryland; executive director of Progressive Maryland; and education director of Advocates for Children and Youth.

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