Cope is one of the most important Committees the BTU has, we encourage all members to use the COPE Committee as a way to get involved and to take action.
What is COPE? How does it work?
COPE stands for the Committee on Political Education.
Form the womb to the tomb, we are impacted by politics. Public education relies on public money to exist. Public money, usually in the form of taxes, is controlled by elected and appointed politicians. To influence decisions and the spending of public money for public education, we participate in politics through our unions.
Legislative battles are about to take place that will significantly determine key aspects of our work environment. Many of the improvements in our environment are not negotiated at the bargaining table, but instead, require legislation. In 2012, we must convince legislators to support legislation that would give us a voice on the school board and improve laws that we have in place.
We must be able to lobby effectively if we are to succeed in getting the laws we need enacted. Having a friend in the Governor’s chair is helpful when it comes to negotiating our terms and conditions of employment. It’s impossible to succeed in lobbying without political action. The brilliance of rightness of our arguments rarely persuades politicians. They want to know what we can do for them (or perhaps for their opponents). Those are the hard facts of political life. COPE funds give us political clout.
HOW ARE COPE FUNDS COLLECTED?
COPE funds are collected through voluntary payroll deduction. The Union can only contribute to fundraisers for specific candidates, and voluntary contributions are the only way to establish an adequate COPE fund. State law and our contract establish our right to a check-off for COPE.
WHO CAN SPEND COPE FUNDS?
The COPE committee makes recommendations. COPE funds are used primarily to assist our legislative friends on the local and state levels with fundraising activities, to raise awareness in the community about issues that are impacting our profession and our students and to lobby the legislators in support of or against legislation.
HOW DO MEMBERS CONTRIBUE TO COPE?
Members must fill out a COPE deduction card to authorize the amount to be deducted from paychecks per pay period. The minimum deduction is $1.00 per pay period. To sign-up for COPE, visit or call the Baltimore Teachers Union office at 410-358-6600.
The Legislative Committee
The Legislative Committee is another extremly important committee the BTU has.
Legislative Committee. This Committee informs members about legislation in the Maryland General Assembly and at the National level that impacts education and educators in the city of Baltimore.
For as long as Baltimore City Public Schools have existed, they have been underfunded by the state of Maryland according to the state’s own definition of adequate funding, as mandated by the courts and constitution, studied and verified by multiple independent consulting research firms, and codified into law by the legislature. The difference between what the state should have been funding BCPSS, and how much they actually spent in 2017 (the last time the Department of Legislative Services studied the “Adequacy Gap”) was $342 million! Furthermore, were we to add up not just a single year’s deficit, but instead cumulative educational debt accrued over the past two decades, then the state would be short at least $3.2 BILLION compared to what their own definition of adequate funding demanded.
This underfunding isn’t just a Baltimore City problem, as 20 of the 24 counties in the state are underfunded, and the current formula is regressive and racist, with richer districts on average receiving 6% more funding ($800 per pupil) than poor districts, and analysis shows the higher concentration of black children in a district, the larger the adequacy gap. BTU members can feel the impact of this historical underfunding every day in our inhumane facilities, with blooming class sizes, inadequate materials and technology, and insufficient staff and counselors in order to meet students needs.
In 2016 a commission was formed by the legislature in order to study Maryland’s current funding formula and make recommendations for what would make the state’s schools world class. This commission was headed by Brit Kirwan, Chancellor Emeritus of the University System of Maryland, and thus became known as the “Kirwan Commission.” Baltimore City teacher and BTU Member Morgan Showalter sat on the Commission and was part of the process for creating a set of recommendations.