When the Governor announced his operating budget, he proposed a $42 million cut in state aid to Baltimore City Public Schools, the third year in a row city schools would be facing a cut. While it is true that most of that cut is due to reductions in enrollment and an increase in city property values, in previous years, Governors have been able to mitigate the harm these cuts would do to the cityand other countiesby appropriating extra grant money for public schools in need.
In addition, in 2016 the legislature created a grant program to create or expand extended day or after school activities in Baltimore City, as well as extend hours at Enoch Pratt Free Libraries. Governor Hogan, in his Budgetary Reconciliation and Financing Act, is proposing to eliminate these programs that help citizens and children in Baltimore City take advantage of services that they so desperately need.
When President Obama passed the Every Student Succeeds Act in early 2016, he gave states the authority to write their own educational accountability and intervention systems. However, with Betsy DeVos now appointed to head the Department of Education, Governor Hogan is expected to take advantage of public school privatizers at the federal level to radically change education in Maryland.
The BTU, along with education partners across the state, are working on implementing ESSA in a way that would preempt Governor Hogan’s ability to implement the DeVos education policies in Maryland. The “Protect Our Schools Act” would require the Maryland Department of Education to author a plan that minimizes the role standardized testing plays on measuring a school’s success, and maximizes other factors like lower class sizes and access to pre-kindergarten programs. It would also prevent Hogan’s School board from intervening over the local school board to convert any school it deems “chronically under-performing” into an unaccountable charter school.
Just as he did two years ago, Governor Hogan introduced acharter school bill that would radically undermine Maryland’s strong charter school law. What makes Maryland’s charter school law so strong is that close local oversight forestalls the waste, fraud, and abuse plaguing charter schools in different states. Governor Hogan’s changes would bring Maryland charter schools more in line with states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, states that are looking to actually curb the fraud and fiscal mismanagement that plagues their system.
The BTUbelieves school voucher programslike Marylands BOOST programundermine public education by taking away dollars that could go to an already underfunded statewide system. BOOST is not helping the original students it was intended to help (nearly 80% of the scholarship recipients already attended a private school the previous year), and it funnels public dollars to private, unaccountable schools while doing little to improve the educational outcomes for Marylands students.
The BTUbelieves we should utilize the opportunity afforded the state through the Every Student Succeeds Act to improve public education. This includes putting a cap of 2% on mandated standardized testing, so students can spend less time testing and more time actually learning in the classroom.