Thomas Edison High School teacher Jesse McGee talks with the Bolender family during the 'grade-in' at Westfield Wheaton shopping mall May 14.
The council may cut more than $100 million from the budget even though there are 3,000 additional students entering the school system this year. Although counties are supposed to fund school districts at the same level as the previous year under Maryland state law, Montgomery County received an exemption from that law for Fiscal Year 2012.
Montgomery County Public Schools teachers have been doing their part to sway public opinion against the cuts. Several hundred of them hit area malls this past weekend, but they they weren't shopping. They were grading mountains of papers at the food courts.
Alyson Russell, who teaches at Parkland Middle School, explains what the demonstration is meant to show. "Being a teacher is not a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. job," she says.
The educators were wearing bright purple t-shirts with the slogan "Teachers at Work" in bold white letters. Table signs urged parents to stop by and chat about the impact of proposed budget cuts.
"As you take things away from teachers youre also taking things away from students," continues Russell.
Jesse McGee, who teaches at Thomas Edison High School, points out that the cuts are essentially punishing a district that has proven itself to be very successful.
"Don't stick it to the education system, especially one that's proven that it can perform at a very high level and produce excellent quality students," he says.
Ben Bolender has two small kids and says he doesn't support the budget cuts.
"I work in Suitland but I live in Montgomery County and have an hour and a half commute just so I can put them in a place that there would be good schools," he says.
The Montgomery County Council takes up the issue on Tuesday.