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EdTerps Advocate for Education Policy in Annapolis

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During the most recent legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis, which ended on April 8, several faculty and students from the University of Maryland College of Education testified and met with legislators to help influence and advance education policy.

Associate Clinical Professor and TESOL Program Coordinator Drew S. Fagan, whose research centers around multilingual education, testified before the Maryland House Appropriations Committee in support of House Bill 569, also known as the Credit for All Language Learning (CALL) Act. It requires English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses taken at community colleges to be credit-bearing and transferable to four-year higher education institutions. The bill passed with bipartisan support in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate, as well as endorsements from the Maryland State Education Association, the Maryland Association of Community Colleges and the University System of Maryland. It has now successfully made its way to Governor Wes Moore’s desk and awaits his signature.

In his testimony, Fagan highlighted the importance of equitable education for all students and the social value of language learning. He also emphasized the bill’s potential to foster a more inclusive learning environment for multilingual students in the linguistically diverse state of Maryland.

“The CALL Act is a fantastic step forward for multilingual learners who want to pursue higher education in Maryland, and it is also a model for the country,” said Fagan. “Part of what it means to be a leader in our field is to use our voice and position to be an advocate for our multilingual learners and their educators both inside and outside of the classroom. I am honored to have been a part of this process.”

Representatives from the Maryland Democracy Initiative testified in support of education policy in Annapolis (2024).

From left: Lena Morreale Scott, MDCEC Program Coordinator Genie Massey, MDCEC youth advisory council member Alex Hossainkhail, Maryland Department of Service and Civic Innovation Secretary Paul Monteiro, Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17), Senator Justin Ready (R-District 5), and MDCEC youth advisory council members Kinsely Potts and Meerub Malik.

In addition, Lena Morreale Scott, senior faculty specialist, director of the Civic Education & Engagement Initiative, principal investigator of the Maryland Democracy Initiative (MDI) and co-chair of the Maryland Civic Education Coalition (MDCEC) testified in favor of Senate Bill 762, commonly known as the “civic seals” bill. This bill would establish the Maryland Civic Excellence Program, which aims to recognize high school students that exemplify civic engagement and public schools that promote civic readiness. Through the program, students would have the opportunity to receive a “seal of excellence,” and schools would be designated as centers of civic excellence. Scott’s testimony spotlighted the value of active citizenship and community involvement among Maryland students and the public school system in shaping a more just society.

“Through the Maryland Civic Excellence Program, we can catalyze students’ positive experiences with service-learning to prepare and inspire young people to lifelong service and civic engagement,” Scott said in her testimony to the Maryland General Assembly’s Education, Energy and Environment Committee. 

Founded in 1999, the Maryland Green Schools Program aims to equip students with knowledge about environmental sustainability and impact. Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professor Doug Lombardi championed Green Schools through his support of House Bills 997 and 1102. These bills would ensure that Green Schools provide exemplary models of scientific and technical spaces and professional development for teachers and staff, as well as establish the schools as hubs for environmental learning. Lombardi’s testimony represents a step toward empowering communities with the knowledge and resources necessary to support sustainable practices and construct a greener future.

“Teachers open up the pathways for students to learn the fundamental science that supports thriving ecosystems … and healthy communities and a thriving economy,” Lombardi said in his testimony before the Maryland House of Delegates Ways & Means Committee. “However, teaching about the complexities of environmental sustainability often can be difficult. Teachers and staff … need the space, tools and resources to engage as a community of educational practitioners to position students for achievement.”

Students and faculty also met with individual legislators to discuss education-related issues. Students and faculty from the Maryland Initiative for Literacy and Equity (MILE) met with legislators to discuss a range of issues including literacy, early childhood education, and ways to support the teacher pipeline and career ladder. Meanwhile, students, faculty and peer mentors from the TerpsEXCEED program, a two-year college experience for students with intellectual disabilities, also visited legislators. Led by Senior Faculty Specialist and TerpsEXCEED Director Amy Dwyre D’Agati, the group advocated for inclusive post-secondary education and financial support for current and new inclusive college programming, as well as financing for families in the state. 

Current students Daniel Brodsky, Evan Miller and Billy Riggs had the opportunity to share their TerpsEXCEED stories, showcasing the impact the program can have on students’ personal and professional growth. Brodsky told legislators that through the program, he has “been able to take classes that will help [him] reach [his] career goal of becoming a disability advocate,” while Miller said, “I enjoy being in TerpsEXCEED and going to college at UMD. I am getting so mature in how I am learning to make new friends.”

Collectively, the College of Education showed true advocacy to create positive change and help shape a more equitable education system for current and future students in the state of Maryland. 

Top photo: Students, faculty and peer mentors from the TerpsEXCEED program met with legislators in Annapolis. From left: TerpsEXCEED student Billy Riggs, graduate assistant Isabelle Jensen, student Evan Miller, Director Amy Dwyre D’Agati and Senator Craig Zucker (D-District 14).



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