Burbey: “While Mr. Craig’s Commitment to Development and Construction Cannot be Questioned, His Commitment to Both Public Safety and Education are Highly Circumspect”

From Harford County Education Association (HCEA) President Ryan Burbey:

During County Executive Craig’s final State of the County Address, he extolled the accomplishments of his administration. Most notable among these were many construction projects, including a new sheriff’s office, emergency operations center, new schools, etc. Presumably, Mr. Craig believes that these edifices alone fulfill his commitment to public safety and education. While Mr. Craig’s commitment to development and construction cannot be questioned, his commitment to both public safety and education are highly circumspect.

County Executive Craig contends that public safety and education are two of the six “pillars” of his administration. He further states, “Education – Preparing now, Building for the future. This more than any of the other pillars of my administration holds a special place in my heart. I pledged that the county would make long-term investments in education by ensuring that children have a safe and stimulating environment in which to learn and to encourage and promote the availability of academic and technical programs that prepare all students to compete in the global marketplace.” Why then has he failed to provide the funding necessary for either the Harford County Sheriff’s Office or Harford County Public Schools to honor their contracts and commitments to their staff? If Mr. Craig is so committed to providing academic and technical programs, why has he persistently criticized the staffing levels, which HCPS requires to expand programing to meet the demands of a competitive 21st century education, which includes increased access to availability of academic and technical programs?

Mr. Craig frequently states how challenging the current economic environment is. However, during his administration general fund revenues have increased by over 30%. During his speech he noted a 35% increase in education funding. However, this is just not substantiated by the facts. In FY 2005-06, Mr. Craig allocated $175.4 million to public education. In FY 2014, Mr. Craig allocated $221.3 million to public education. That is an increase of $45.9 million or 26%. This increase is not even proportional to the overall increase in general fund revenues. As a result, public education has received a declining percentage of general fund revenues throughout the Craig Administration.

Prior to Mr. Craig taking office in 2005, HCPS received 48% of general fund revenues. Mr. Craig lists public education as receiving 45% of the general fund in his current budget. To further compound Mr. Craig’s declining support of public education, these budgetary percentages do not even include the numerous supplemental appropriations, which the Craig Administration routinely makes outside the budget to other county departments but denies HCPS.

In typical fashion, County Executive Craig blames the State of Maryland for all of his funding woes. However, in eight out of the past ten years, the State of Maryland provided more funding for Harford County Public Schools than Harford County Government. In fact, during Mr. Craig’s tenure as County Executive, Harford County has never even contributed half the cost of educating our children.

Mr. Craig’s failure to adequately fund our schools is further complicated by his extensive public development program. Not only do these projects bleed necessary funding from the operational budgets for both education and public safety; but his copious public improvement projects have caused a dramatic increase in Harford County’s wealth factor, which is used for calculating state aid to public education. No one in the Craig Administration seems to have paid any heed to the impact that his extravagant spending on development would have on the funding provided to Harford County Public Schools by the State of Maryland.

While Mr. Craig and I can agree that the state funding formula needs to be revisited, his failure to consult the current funding model as guidance to responsibly planning projects and development by accounting for potential reductions in state funding, has exacerbated his persistent underfunding of our schools. Perhaps, if Mr. Craig truly believes, “The state formulas which fund our schools are broken, misaligned, and disproportionate in nature. They unfairly and adversely impact the proper state funding our children have a right to and deserve.” He should have partnered with our state delegates and senators to pass legislation revising the funding formula, rather than just continuously criticizing them as he did publically in November of 2012.

Over the course of the last nine years, Mr. Craig has consistently underfunded both public safety and public education. Likewise, he has repeatedly blamed others for his shortcomings and failure to fulfill his promises. Whether he is blaming the State of Maryland or the Harford County Board of Education or the Harford County Council or the Governor or even the Harford County Delegation, it seems someone else is always to blame for Mr. Craig’s failures. I will not question Mr. Craig’s, “Love of this county.” However, his lack of accountability and inability to compromise, or collaborate with his fellow elected officials and stakeholders have not “positioned” our county for a better future. Tragically, by failing to adequately fund our schools, Mr. Craig has put the quality of our schools, the value of our properties and most importantly, our children’s futures at risk.

Comments

  1. Praying says

    Dear Randy, I sure hope you
    and the superintendent can have a respectful and open discussions with Mr. Craig about the underfunding of schools before he reconciles his numbers with other agencies to advocate the necessity for full funding the school budget. Teachers are activity seeking positions else where for a $5000 raise. Sadly, those jobs are very competitive and therefore many disenfranchised staff remain on the team. Please make it right.

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    • Kharn says

      How is that any different from private industry? I’ve jumped ship for less than $5000/yr before. There will always be someone offering more money or closer to an employee’s home or better dental benefits or free beer on Fridays or a more pleasent secretary, and if the employee gets that job offer, good for them.

      Workers should not languish in one position for their entire career, they should move around, learn how different employers do things so that when they advance in their careers to decision making roles they can apply the best practices from each. That is what makes organizations stronger, not putting a person in one position for 35 years until the day you send them home with a fruit basket and a thank-you card.

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        Unlike many industries or businesses, education is a field in which stability of your workforce results in more innovation. There is a steep learning curve for teachers. Constant turnover causes instability and a general decline of the system. There are many studies which indicate this.

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        • Kharn says

          From what I’ve seen, the longer a teacher is in one position, the more likely they are to recycle last year’s handouts, assignments, tests, etc. At least Common Core will making the teachers rework the curriculum; I was getting frustrated with my children being given tests and told “The answer to #5 is A, #10 is C” etc because the teacher was too lazy to even correct the test from year to year. But I guess in your world, having a stable, but incorrect, Scantron answer sheet is a good thing.

          HCPS should shuffle teachers between schools to ensure everyone has a chance to see how different schools are run and to bring those ideas to their next school. Even if it is just JHS/EHS or BAHS/CMW/PMHS swapping a few teachers so that their commutes are not significantly impacted, the teachers will see new ways to do things and the quality of education will increase.

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            You fail to recognize the importance of understanding and being a part of a community both within and outside of the school. Most teachers are constantly refining and improving their practice. You re right that sharing promotes innovation but this sharing is best fostered in an environment of trust and stability not constant fluctuation.

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          • spy says

            Sadly you do not understand what you are talking about. There are so many checks and balances in education that teachers cannot recycle lessons over and over again and expect to keep their jobs. Also, you seem to forget that HCPS is operating with the new Common Core, so “recycling” handouts and such is not gonna happen. You cannot put a square peg in a round hole!

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  2. mostly blue says

    Add to that the purchase of environmental dumps, proposed landfill recycling station in Joppa, the lot adjacent to the school board building presumably to build a new administration building under the global facilities plan which was shut down by the county council. In addition, the consecutive property tax cuts while home prices were high but somehow the same logic doesn’t apply when home prices go down as well as his refusal to increase the property tax rate to the suggested property tax yield, which was demanded by the conservatives in the county when it was convenient to them! But of course, now the same rationale doesn’t apply. Teachers, employees and deputies have funded the expenditures in ever increasing administrative jobs in the Executive’s own office and also the same in the county council office whom added more staff and created another department within their purview to basically keep tabs on other county offices. The employees have been overburdened, furloughed, reduced in number (rank and file jobs lost) while administrative jobs and promotions granted. Staff in some departments have been reduced so much state and federal monitoring and audits have already pointed out that HCG is in danger of losing grants and options to improve areas of deficiencies in our infrastructure. Note to the CE, adding more middle and upper management staff doesn’t actually help the workforce or the citizens since these positions don’t deal with front line issues and are nothing more than another layer between the decision makers and the staff that has to actually interface and work on pressing issues be it safely, infrastructure or program related to the optimal operation of a departments mission. Wait times for some citizens have increased and in many other instances citizens are being referred to state or federal equivalents which doesn’t mean the citizen is getting help, but instead getting the run around the posy. Take into consideration that property tax receipts haven’t increased in years and the property tax yield hasn’t moved to compensate for the lower revenue. This county is falling backwards on its mission to provide quality services in education, governance and safety. Buying used and shiny helicopters doesn’t really address the drug trade in the county no more than spying on citizens by NSA to combat terrorism. If Cecil County and Howard County can pay their teachers a step or two so can Harford County!!!

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  3. Daniel Webster says

    cir·cum·spect
    adjective \?s?r-k?m-?spekt\

    :thinking carefully about possible risks before doing or saying something

    I’d say that’s EXACTLY what the County Executive should be. No place in government for rash decisions with other peoples money.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      This usage would mean subject to consideration, or ambiguous, or potentially dubious or needing to be examined.

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      • Kharn says

        Mr Burbey,
        Your definition isn’t on Wiktionary, Merriam-Webster or Dictionary.com. You might have used “suspect” instead, but that wouldn’t demonstrate your intellectual superiority…

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          See the examples below:
          The circumspect approach to the ridge now loomed above him.
          Could there be a better illustration of why real scientists are so circumspect about such claims?
          There was a circumspect start.
          Singer’s casting of Spacey was extremely circumspect given that he is Singer’s brother-in-law.

          http://sentence.yourdictionary.com/circumspect

          I was unsure if I had made a mistake and researched to check my usage. Thankfully, I found that I had used circumspect as I intended. The context and sentence location are important.

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          • bignlittle says

            You are still mistaken. The definition included in your own source says:
            “adjective
            1. Circumspect is defined as cautious and unwilling to take risks.

            If you have two choices and always choose the least risky one, this is an example of a time when you are circumspect.”

            I sure hope you teach better.

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            This is the exact same usage.

            “Singer’s casting of Spacey was extremely circumspect given that he is Singer’s brother-in-law.”

            Subject to examination.

            Are we really going to debate my usage of one word any longer?

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          • Kharn says

            Mr Burbey,
            I got a chuckle out of YourDictionary.com’s tagline of “The dictionary you can understand.” Maybe you should try OED or taking a course in Latin instead?

            Even YourDictionary defines the word as “1. Circumspect is defined as cautious and unwilling to take risks.” Which, to me, is a great quality in a politician.

            One poor example doesn’t change the definition.

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            I am sorry if my usage does not align with your rigid understanding of language. Perhaps the dictionary was not aptly named for you, Kharn…

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  4. Brian says

    Someone please provide me with evidence that teachers have been leaving the system in great numbers due to budget issues. I read constantly that this would be the case, yet I do not believe it to be true. Of course I could be wrong, so please have the union put forth the info that indicates that their fear inducing predictions have come true.
    Thank You

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    • Kharn says

      How many teachers left for more salary, compared to those that departed due to a change in their family situation (marriage, birth, spouse’s relocation, etc) or plain old retirement? Does HCPS conduct exit interviews?

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          • Kharn says

            Mr Burbey,
            Does HCPS conduct exit interviews to ascertain the reason for an employee’s departure? Does HCEA?

            And doesn’t HCEA have its own website? Use that for hosting documents instead of Google Drive. I don’t want you to find out who I am (or even get a good idea, based on who views the file) because I fear repercussions in my childrens’ education. It would also make you look more professional.

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            Kharn,
            I can’t see who you are if you view the document. I have made it public to anyone with the link.
            Yes, HCEA has a website. We use google because of capacity issues and for ease of access. HCPS does not always conduct exit interviews. Many teachers who leave just want to put HCPS in the rearview.

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          • Kharn says

            Mr Burbey,
            You say you can’t see those that viewed the document, but that feature is available.

            HCEA collects $~600 per member per year, and you can’t afford a decent hosting solution? How is a Google Drive address more accessible than Harfordcea.org? Maybe you should use $18 of that dues money for a Web Hosting for Dummies book…

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            Kharn,
            Thank you for the advice. However, I think I feel comfortable with our model. I promise I will not track you or anyone else who looks at the Google doc.

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        • Concerned Spouse says

          My wife has worked in the school system and I can attest to the fact that her net take home pay has declined since 2006. You have to consider not only the lack of salary increases but also the increase in the costs of health benefits. And by salary increases, I am not talking about discretionary raises. It is not about the teachers asking for more and more. I am talking about basic cost of living adjustments and step increases that the county was contractually obligated to provide that were NOT provided.

          The increases in the costs of health benefits have otustripped any 1% pay increases here and there that have been received. You have to consider that we went from having no deductible on health insurance to now having a several hundred dollar deductible (the exact number escapes me at the moment but I want to say it is $1,000). That figure for all of the young teachers who have babies is a direct $1,000 reduction in the amount they take home. We don’t quite hit the full amount but do use up a few hundred dollars every year.

          All of those cumulative increases that all of the teachers have lost over the years add up. Had the County honored their contractual obligations since 2006, I figure my wife would be bringing home at least $800 – $1,000 more per month. That is just COL and basic step increases. Now certainly during the hard economic times, I can see making a sacrifice for a year or two just to keep a job. I was laid off of my job in 2009, so having a job is better than not having a job. But going into 2014 with the economy picking up steam again, there is no excuse not to start making it up to the teachers and police and other county employees who have made sacrifices all these years.

          As some have already pointed out our wonderful county executive cries poor out of one side of his mouth, but miraculously finds millions of dollars to buy worthless property for a park in havre de grace; millions of dollars for turf fields at all high schools; millions of dollars for a dog park in Fallston; millions of dollars for additional sports fields; millions of dollars to lend to his cronies for the James Run project and Beach Tree project through TIF, I could go on. The only reason for his refusal to do what is right for teachers and other county employees is because he wants to say he stood up to the union as part of his campaign for governor. Meanwhile he has effectively alienated every HCPS employee in the process. Here is a news flash King David: You are NOT going to win the Republican nomination if you can’t carry your own county.

          David Craig’s handling of the teacher situation has been an embarrassment and a black eye for this county for years. I hope our new county executive does not pick up where he left off. Our new county executive needs to fix this situation and make the county employees (teachers and police among others) who provide invaluable services to our community a top priority instead of turf fields and dog parks.

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          • Concerned Spouse says

            Oh and I should add that my wife is currently seeking employment elsewhere after more than 15 years of service due purely to the lack of respect the David Craig has given to teachers over the years.

            Over the years I have got to know many of her teacher friends and I would have to say that morale among teachers is at an all time low. So long-time experienced teachers are either leaving the school system or staying put with low morale. Either way it is not a good situation for the future of our children.

            Someone needs to have the common sense and more importantly COURAGE to step-in, mend fences and fix this situation.

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          • Kharn says

            The vast majority of Americans have suffered increased healthcare costs in the last 5 years. HCPS teachers are not the only ones affected by the consequences of the ACA’s mandates. Instead of a deductible, HCPS could have raised the biweekly contribution further, but that would punish all teachers for the high healthcare costs of a few instead of putting the burden on those that use their healthcare plan more frequently.

            Have you considered that teacher morale might be low for a multitude of reasons other than just pay? Such as ineffective and unsupportive administrators, parents who demand the best for their unique snowflake regardless of the impact to other students, and an evaluation process that doesn’t reward high-performing teachers?

            David Craig will be gone in 2015. Why not wait for the new executive and see how that person handles funding for HCPS?

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            ACA has nothing to do with the healthcare cost at HCPS. HCPS is self-insured. If anything it has lessened the increases. Pay is why people are leaving in mass. There are other complications but when teachers are forced to work 2nd and 3rd jobs just to survive, it does not allow them to adapt to complexity factors, like evaluations and a shift in content.

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          • Kharn says

            Mr Burbey,
            You’re wrong again.
            HCPS’s costs are increasing because healthcare providers have increased their costs to all clients to combat decreasing reimbursements from Medicare/Medicaid. HCPS isn’t big enough to negotiate the ridiculously low reimbursements that Medicare/Medicaid (or other insurance plans) can.

            If you need a second and/or third job in addition to your HCPS salary to survive, maybe you should reevaluate your lifestyle and the choices you’ve made?

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          • Cdev says

            Kharn Harford County government is the insurer. THey self Insure all BCBS does is administer the plan and benifit!

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          • Arturro Nasney says

            HCPS pays BCBS to administer the plan and more importantly, be the stop loss insurer. What that means is that the County pays up to some dollar amount per employee, when that max is achieved BCBS is carrying the entire load. Additionally BCBS insures a maximum per year payment from HCPS. When that number is achieved BCBS is paying 100% of payments to providers. One case of cancer, or a heart attack and the per employee is achieved. Every year BCBS gives HCPS the rate for the next year’s insurance premium based upon last year’s actual utilization.
            I doubt sincerely that too many of the rank and file union members understand this. For the sake of the non employees, this is what Cdev and Burbey are so poorly expalining

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        • Brian says

          As far as I can tell with the resource provided and reading thorough the comments no proof is offered that there was a exodus of teachers because of salary issues. To say it is common sense I do not think is a defense.
          Again I say that one of the main arguements was the ability to retain and recruit teachers. I heard this time and time again. Please provide evidence to prove your concerns are true.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      Schools with more difficult work environments have higher turnover rates but this only complicates the problem. How do you recruit high quality teachers to work in a tougher environment for less pay?

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      • Farts smell like cheetos says

        Easy people want to come live in pleasantville harford county enjoying the country life.

        There will always be a ton of employment apps on file as getting 1 chair thrown at you a month is better than getting 1 chair thrown at you on a daily basis in a city

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          Why not live in pleasantville Cecil County or Howard County or for that matter Allegheny County or Southern York County, PA? All those pay their teachers more.

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      • Kharn says

        Mr Burbey,
        Well, that would be one reason to shuffle teachers around. That way every school would get some of the good and some of the bad…

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  5. hopeallrhappy says

    I teach at a school with just a little over 100 teachers. I know for a fact last school year we had 6 teachers leave for other districts. 1 of the 6 took a job in another state because of family relocation. The other 5 ended up in either Balt. co, Cecil co, or Pa. None moved.

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        They are funding their schools and hiring more teachers, unlike Harford County. Likewise, a large number of teachers have been retiring as the baby boomers age.

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  6. Jim in Hickory says

    Far too much waste already in the HCPS system. Just the other day I passed a HCPS truck hauling a trailer containing a brand new skid steer loader with 2 buckets, even had HCPS new logo on it. Cost of that thing has to be over $60,000. What the heck does the school system need with a piece of equipment that could be rented from a local company as and when needed? The school system is a bloated pig whining for more… more…. more…… Clean your own house the money you seek is being wasted by those crying the loudest.

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  7. Fred says

    Burbey, you are like a broken record that needs to be thrown in the trash, same old same old year after year after year after year. Why don’t you pack up and go get a higher paying job in another County and stop your whining.

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    • Because says

      For the same reason it took 100 years for slavery to be replaced with a recognition of basic civil rights. Some of you take a while to convince of the rightness of a cause, and even then some are so backwards they will never realize it.

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  8. Same old, Same old says

    Enough! Teachers, you have a union – what has it gotten you? If Mr. Burbey is to speak for you then let him. If you all send in comments and attend open meetings and speak up individually why have a union? Here’s one way to get a raise – decertify the union and then the dues will be in your pay check.

    I’m going to get blasted for this but geeez, enough rhetoric already.

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    • LOL says

      Except now “non union” members are forced to pay a fee, albeit a little less than six hundred dollars to their counties teachers union, thanks to Annapolis.

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  9. Brian says

    As far as I can tell with the resource provided and reading thorough the comments no proof is offered that there was a exodus of teachers because of salary issues. To say it is common sense I do not think is a defense.
    Again I say that one of the main arguements was the ability to retain and recruit teachers. I heard this time and time again. Please provide evidence to prove your concerns are true.

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  10. Trying hard not to give up says

    Two at my school have already left for jobs with higher pay, and I personally know of 5 that are in various stages of interviews at higher paying jobs. Then there are those that are looking but keeping it quiet….Many of us are looking, we just have to do it discreetly so our administrators don’t know until we actually have a solid job offer so we don’t have any repercussions. There are several eligible faculty that would stick around but have said that they’ll ‘retire’ from HCPS if the higher paying job is offered to them.
    I’m sure similar numbers are at many schools.

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    • Swamp flavored Ice Cream says

      And two people will replace the two that left, and the cycle will continue – Like it does everywhere else.

      It’s humorous (to me) that people who sit and watch the hour and minute hand on the wall with fancy job titles in the administration building get paid so much more, and basically do so much less than your average teacher has responsibility for.

      Who manages the facebook profile? Is that position called the “Social Media Logistic and Communicating Manager”?

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  11. Simplicity says

    First, teachers are tired and Burbey is a tool. Nobody even cares enough to run against him. He tries to stay relevant by posting to the dagger….still nobody cares. Burbey can’t rally the teachers. Do the teachers deserve a raise….yep. Will they fight along side Burbey…nope. HCEA will only be successful when a leader can get the teachers to believe in the leader and come out to support the cause.

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    • Trying hard not to give up says

      Harford County citizens have really never supported teachers and have always blasted anyone who represents them. It’s not that no one cares to run against him…it’s that no teacher I know wants to have all that vitriol directed against them and their family and be continually vilified in the media. While I don’t always agree with Mr. Burbey I have to appreciate his dedication and courage to stay with the job that is so unappreciated by so many people.

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  12. ABC123 says

    You don’t need proof that teachers are leaving because of the salary freeze. It is common sense, despite your individual belief. According to dagger readers, teachers have it made with excessive time off and great benefits. So that can’t be the problem. A hostile work environment could be an option, but teachers are in classrooms all day with little peer interaction. So that can’t be the problem. Let’s see it could be that the children are inappropriate and disrespectful . Nope, because the best teachers know these kids just need a little more love. So the only thing left is money and with rising food, gas, utilities , daycare and auto cost we are just trying to survive. Our pay needs to rise.

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  13. WTF says

    Burbey, You want additional funding? Go plant your sorry excuse for a self down at a budget committee in Annapolis and help bring those additional funds you whine about every day to the county. Wait, that’s perhaps too much work. It’s easier to just whine and point fingers on TV during council meetings, or show up at community meetings to grandstand on the BS you are trying to sell to your members and the public. Oh, when you do find your way to Annapolis, when they stand for the pledge, may I suggest you actually participate!

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