Written Testimony in favor of Senate Bill 831/House Bill 1349
My name is Ashwani Jain and I use he/him pronouns. I’m a 32-year-old cancer survivor; a son of immigrants and minority-owned small business owners. I’m someone who’s worked in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. I’m a lifelong Marylander who has never lived anywhere else.
I’m also a candidate for Maryland Governor but — most importantly — I’m a very proud product of Maryland public schools (K-12).
As such, I’m testifying in strong support of Senate Bill 831 and House Bill 1349 — which would give Maryland’s educational support staff a $500 bonus in FY2023 and FY2024, as well as establish a workgroup to examine ways to raise staff wages in the long-term.
As a product of Maryland Public Schools — including a Title 1 Elementary School — I understand the importance of providing quality and accessible education for every student across this state. Even when I was battling cancer at the age of 13, I remember how the entire network of staff at my middle school — everyone from the bus driver, the food service staff, the custodians, my guidance counselor, my teachers, and even the building itself — became my safe place where I was able to find emotional support, push my worries from the hospital aside, and feel like I wasn’t alone.
Our ESPs are depended on for the distribution and maintenance of devices, record- keeping of policies, and meals for entire school communities. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, our ESPs have been presented with many additional responsibilities and challenges, yet have persevered. By adequately compensating them for their hard work and dedication, we can help alleviate some of their financial stress and ensure we retain these dedicated public servants to support our communities.
I urge you to vote in favor of Senate Bill 831/House Bill 1349 as it will have numerous positive impacts on not just our schools but on our community as a whole.