Joel is endorsed by the Montgomery County Education Association, one of the county's largest public employee unions, which represents more than 14,000 teachers, classroom specialists and counselors.
Our public education system must provide a real opportunity for every student to succeed.
Joel has a deep personal commitment to public education. He is a certified elementary education teacher, earning his certificate as an undergraduate at Brandeis University, and has three young daughters attending Montgomery County public schools.
Joel comes from a family of educators, as his mother is a retired English instructor at Penn State University-New Kensington and his sister is a faculty member at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. Joel currently teaches a graduate level thesis course at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Public Policy.
Joel believes it is our responsibility to support our students and teachers in order to make sure that they have the tools they need to succeed. As a State Delegate, he will ensure that Maryland’s education system works for everyone – students, teachers, administrators, staff, and parents – and to do that, he will take the following actions:
Address the $3 billion shortfall facing our schools by creating a financially sustainable Education Fund. Such a fund would be solely dedicated to raising revenues for and making expenditures in support of education.
Support the Education Fund through progressive taxation. That includes raising taxes on large companies with over 100 employees and the wealthiest 1% of families with incomes over $450,000 per year, but also by courting contributions from foundations, the private sector, and local/county governments.
Manage the Education Fund in a manner similar to large public pension funds. Interest obtained from the fund could be obligated for expenditure, as well as a portion of the base capital of the fund. The fund's investments should be placed into government backed securities and bonds, and the fund itself could only be used for educational purposes, and could not be raided for other budgetary priorities.
Support teachers by making sure that the education budget is first to receive appropriations. That means working with teachers unions to formulate an independent budget that can be used to shape the official budget request. We must also honor our pension obligations, defend public education employees’ rights to bargain collectively, and ensure that minimum wage levels are continually assessed to ensure that school employees are earning what they need to stay strong.
Oppose efforts to use state resources for nonpublic schools. Zero public funding should go to nonpublic schools. I will offer a plan to wean off public funding from nonpublic schools, specifically by creating a sunset termination period for such funding.
Support increased funding for school construction. Students learn best when they’re learning in healthy environments. Modern, clean, high-tech schools are a prerequisite for such an environment. Our schools have multiple infrastructural needs, from HVAC systems to water systems to general spacing issues. It’s essential that we invest in school infrastructure, as it’s a clear investment in our students’ ability to learn, and that we pay a fair wage to those who are doing the work.
Support common-sense school ratings policies. School ratings should be based upon the entirety of the school, not just academic performance. We need to support schools where there’s areas for improvement, not penalize them for their difficulties.
Expand educational opportunities for students in need. We must use every tool available to combat poverty, and one of the best tools for achieving this goal is effective education. In areas where there’s endemic, concentrated poverty, it’s essential that schools provide a holistic approach – as is done by community schools - to combatting the impacts of poverty on their students in order to give them a real chance to succeed. This type of success will ultimately ensure that poverty in these communities is reduced.
As a certified elementary school teacher who taught in the Peace Corps, and the father of three daughters who attend the Montgomery County Public Schools, Joel is deeply committed to the success of our school system. While we will not know the Kirwan Commission’s final recommendations until December 2018, we do know that the MCPS system, which receives about 12% of state capital funding while accounting for nearly 18% of Maryland’s school population and 40% of its school enrollment growth, is not receiving its fair share of the state’s revenue. Both the State and County have roles to play in meeting per-pupil spending and Joel would advocate for cost-sharing between the two that keeps pace with rising enrollment.
Joel will fight to increase the MCPS budget through a multi-faceted approach that will raise revenues in order to grow the State’s overall education budget, secure those gains in an Education Fund, and tie funding to enrollment growth. Such an approach would smooth out the financial costs to MCPS associated with enrollment spikes by creating a consistent supplemental funding source, while also addressing base budget needs.
Joel will also press for a State Constitutional amendment to direct casino revenues to supplement the State’s education budget – particularly for capital investment - and propose a mathematical formula that keeps pace with our school’s needs. Combined with the actions above, Joel believes this would help fund the Kirwan Commission's recommended reforms and secure Maryland's public education funding for the long term.