As a Maryland State Senator representing Worcester, Wicomico, and Somerset counties and with the end of the 2023 legislative session, I wanted to share my general approach to public service and the facts of how I advocate for our shore priorities with a new governor and administration, new statewide officeholders and new Maryland General Assembly.
I represent the very best of Maryland in District 38 with such a strong cross-section of constituencies including tourism/hospitality; farming/poultry; fishing; forestry; major health care providers; public and private K-12 schools and three institutions of higher education; retirees; veterans; and among the most creative small business operators and job creators in the country.
To be effective in representing all my constituents, I must know and understand my district, and work with community partners, the private sector, and elected officials on both sides of the aisle to advance shared Shore priorities of the 11 municipalities and three counties in District 38.
For the past eight years, I worked with Governor Hogan and his Administration, and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to increase public safety, expand workforce opportunities for our youth, support economic development, including Broadband expansion, and small business, ensure resources for our Maryland coastal bays, fight the opioid crisis, push for retiree and other tax relief to stay competitive in Maryland, and assist constituents and businesses through the pandemic.
With the election of a new Governor and new Maryland General Assembly including my own reelection to the State Senate, I have been making the extra effort to ensure that the voices and priorities of the Shore are heard in Annapolis. This includes coordination of priorities here at home, building new relationships, and renewing others with the Governor, Lt Governor, and his team.
I have done this in both formal and informal ways including accepting an invitation to a faith-based event in Prince Georges County with the Governor and Lt. Governor prior to the Governor’s Inauguration; meeting with the Governor’s Cabinet Secretary nominees and taking the opportunity to share Shore priorities with them; and even joining Governor Wes Moore and Lt. Governor Aruna Miller for the Special Olympics’ Polar Plunge in the chilly Chesapeake Bay waters in January.
Looking back at the 2023 legislative session, I am encouraged by many of the accomplishments impacting my three counties but also acknowledge that some initiatives will take more than one session to complete.
Perhaps, the most important achievement this session affecting the entire Lower Shore and statewide is the Eastern Shore Delegation’s team effort to secure critical funding and legislation to support TidalHealth’s trauma center, the Eastern Shore’s only trauma program which serves patients from every Maryland jurisdiction. Back in the fall, months before the start of the January session, TidalHealth’s leadership informed the delegation that the trauma center was in jeopardy and needed funding to continue operations after being denied their repeated requests for appropriate funding from the Health Services Cost Review Commission.
Working together, we were able to secure an additional $9.5 million to assist Maryland trauma centers experiencing financial challenges, including TidalHealth which has been woefully underfunded by the state. In addition, I sponsored with Delegate Tom Hutchinson of Cambridge, and the Maryland General Assembly unanimously approved Senate Bill 493 to study the adequacy of trauma funding across Maryland which is the long-term solution for ensuring fair funding for TidalHealth’s trauma center in the future.
Serving my constituents and advocating for our shared Shore priorities remains my top priority. I encourage my constituents to contact me directly at [email protected] as the best ideas always come from the front lines. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Senator Mary Beth Carozza
Fully Fund Schools’ Request
As reported in the April 21 issue of The Dispatch by Charlene Sharpe in “School Board Addresses County Budget Concerns, Worcester County Commissioners have indicated that they need more details on possible savings in the proposed education budget prepared by Worcester County Public Schools and passed by the Board of Education.
According to Superintendent Lou Taylor, “Last year, we were told that it was going to be tough because they were going to be $5 million short. They ended up having an $11.1 million dollars, and this is for educational purposes, $11 million excess money. That’s a $17 million swing.” In addition, there is an $82 million fund balance that can be used.
How can the commissioners justify the need to cut the school budget as passed by the school board members? Setting the budget is the job of the school board and they labor each year to come up with the plan that is best for our county’s students. Our school system is outstanding, and I am sure we all want it to stay that way. Therefore, I ask the commissioners to fully fund the amount requested by the Worcester County Board of Education.
Schools Budget Scrutiny Supported
Our children are small and naive but we love them, therefore we must have guard rails to guide them through their education. For the first 200 years of our history the classroom teacher has been the sole guardian of the guard rails that guide our children. In Loco Parentis is the old Latin that simply said that the teacher while in the classroom acted in the absence of the parent with the authority of a parent. This was accepted by parents, administrators and unambiguously communicated to the child.
Today Abraham is a seven-year-old turning eight in second grade. Every morning he enters into a ritual during which he stands up and paces up and down during class, cries and screams. It has been going on since he entered first grade. His classroom teacher no longer has the powers of a parent and is only permitted to find out why? “My daddy hit me.” The teacher today is now required to turn in the family. Reports are filled out and turned in to childcare. A speech therapist is set up for appointments as well as a psychologist.
With all the attention Abraham gets, the next day one should not be surprised if he cries out again. His classroom disruptions go on and on depriving the other students of important teaching time. In the past with the teacher acting as parent the teacher would have told Abraham to “keep quiet.” If he repeatedly acted out, the teacher would have disciplined him, maybe by drawing a circle on the blackboard, and telling Abraham to stick his nose in it and making Abraham wear a paper hat folded into a cone that had dunce written on it. If that didn’t work there would have been meetings between teacher and the parents. Family was always involved with teacher to seek a solution. Today in Lou Taylor’s circus mix of woke, diversity, equity, inclusion the family is often held accountable and derogatory behavior during the teaching process are tolerated under equity. Newsflash Lou all children are not equal they are all different! America although not perfect tries to have equal opportunity for their different skills after graduation.
For the first time in decades, the Commissioners of Worcester County have decided to review the 2024 annual school expenses submitted by the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools. Funding the 13 public schools in the County is the largest expense the county has. In the past the Commissioners have merely rubberstamped whatever they are given by the Superintendent and the Board of Education.
Hats off to Mr. Bertino, Mr. Bunting and Mr. Elder for finally calling for a detailed review of the school budget. The school budget has grown over 300% after inflation per pupil over the last 50 years. Unfortunately, academic achievements in the county have declined. In light of the decline in academics and the runaway costs of education every County resident should be proud of the Commissioners for taking a detailed look at not only the four plus million in requested annual increases but at the detail of every expense. For now, these three commissioners are trying to abide by hideous Maryland State education rules and laws. Evaluating expenses is a first step.
Why has the expense of education per student in the county increased 300% above inflation yet math proficiency has declined to 37% and algebra proficiency (a requirement) has declined to 22%? Well Mr. Taylor says “we are better then Baltimore.” That is true in Baltimore math proficiency is -0%.
A first step is not enough for two Commissioners Mrs. Caryn Abbott and Mr. Eric Fiori who want to know why the expense of education is spiraling up and the achievements are declining? They are joined by Katie Addis, the only Board of Education member to date, who did not rubber stamp Lou Taylor’s budget. Why were the graduating seniors from Steven Decatur 50 years ago more credentialed and more likely to go to college at one third the cost of today? “What happened to our merit-based education system?” Two commissioners and a Board of Education member want to know. It’s about time, don’t you think?
Our children are small and naive but we love them, so why are we depriving them the guardrails of a classroom teacher acting as parent to help form their development? Why are teachers required to report parents for disciplining their child? Undermining the strength of the family should have no part in education.
For 200 years classroom teachers in America were the envy of the world. K-12 education consisted of a room with 30-35 students, a blackboard with chalk, and of course a classroom teacher. The teacher would compose and present their curriculum to the assistant principal for approval. Once approved, the classroom teacher was 100% backed by the principal, the superintendent and of course the parents who all gave complete control of the classroom to the classroom teacher. This included disciplinary matters as that insured a quiet attentive teaching environment for the children. The teacher had the power of a parent.
Mr. Mitrecic and Mrs. Purnell are two county commissioners that feel the commissioners should blindly approve another year of the school budget. The humorous thing about Mr. Mitrecic is he says in Ocean City Today “they were elected just like we are,” regarding the Board of Education. Joe, like many politicians in Ocean City, believes that the chronic voter apathy in town suggests, in a convoluted way, that they were “elected”. News flash, when you have no opponent Joe, there is no election contest. The only true competitive elections in the county are the commissioners, certainly not the Mayor or Council in Ocean City.
What are we doing today in Lou Taylor’s diversity, equity and inclusion circus? Today we have speech therapists, sign language interpreters, psychologists, occupational therapists, teaching assistants and the classes are half the size. With all those professionals and all that attention why are they failing to educate our young? If they are not educating them to the same level as before, what are they doing? Public school in our county has become more about indoctrination then education.
Children today are not allowed to experience the full structure of the classroom teacher with the power of a parent so important in forming their young personality. So, some will keep “acting out” disrupting teaching for the majority. Recently a crowd of young adult students at Stanford Law School acting out in a primitive tribal manner overthrew a lecture by an appellate judge. My fear is old guys like Jon Andes and I soon will be dead and there will be no social memory of traditional education as a guide. Where are you when we need you, Jon Andes?
Falls Church, Va.