April 23, 2015

100 days: Hogan fires back on education funding debate

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Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, networks at a press event marking 100 days in office.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, networks at a press event marking 100 days in office.

Photos by Rebecca Lessner. Above: Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, networks at a press event marking 100 days in office.

By Rebecca Lessner

For MarylandReporter.com

Gov. Larry Hogan did not give a final decision about whether to fund a requested $68 million to aid counties with higher costs of education during a 100 days in office press event on Thursday.

“They’re gone, session is over,” said Hogan when asked to comment on any future negotiations with legislators. “We now have to deal with the consequences of what happened and make very tough decisions moving forward on how to solve the problems that were created.”

Currently there is a bill before the governor that would require Hogan to fully fund Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI), which gives more funding for areas with high school costs. The governor now has the option to sign mandated spending into law, or veto it.

“They’re screaming bloody murder, (saying) ‘it’s the end of the world, we’re going to increase classroom size and lay-off teachers,’ when in fact that doesn’t make sense,” said Hogan. “We’ve increased spending. I think there is a lot of rhetoric that isn’t helping the discussion and is not that accurate.”

Hogan ended his first days in office with a flock of journalists from all over Maryland, arriving not only to show support to the state press association, but also to drill the governor on what he plans to do with his next 1,360 days in office.

“Actually I’ve only been in office 93 days,” said Hogan at the event. “We have accomplished a hard days worth of work in 93 days, you won’t believe what we will accomplish in the next seven days.”

The on the-record discussion with Hogan and Lieutenant Gov. Boyd Rutherford was sponsored by the Maryland DC Press Association (MDDC). On the menu were the governor’s responses to the Freddie Gray investigation ongoing in Baltimore City, whether Hogan planned to veto the hotel tax bill, transparency and overtesting in public schools.

Educating funding still being debated

House Speaker Mike Busch speaks with reporters Tuesday about education funding. “The money is essential for the well being of our education throughout the state,” Busch said. “We’re here to ask the governor to take the obligation that was put before him by the General Assembly.”

House Speaker Mike Busch speaks with reporters about education funding.

Speaker of the House Michael Busch joined Sen. Richard Madaleno and teachers union president of the Maryland State Education Association, Betty Weller, on Tuesday for a press conference calling for more support from the governor for GCEI.

“The money is essential for the well being of our education throughout the state,” Busch said. “We’re here to ask the governor to take the obligation that was put before him by the General Assembly.”

Hogan did not give a definitive answer on Thursday, but it appears there are still disagreements.

“We’re trying to move forward with something very responsible, but also trying to address the out-years,” said Budget Secretary David Brinkley. “The governor is the first governor to fund any GCEI in his first year.”

Hogan feels leaders aren’t differing on their priority of funding education.

“We are all 100-percent in agreement that the top priority for our state is education funding. We’ve agreed on $109 million increase over the last year and a $290 million more for new school construction,” said Hogan, supporting his position on treating education fairly.

Brinkley worries that harvesting pension funds for short-term gain will cause long term problems.

Brinkley Getty

Chief Legislative Officer Joe Getty, left, and Budget Secretary David Brinkley speak with reporters.

 

Hogan will sign police body cam legislation, called for investigation into Gray case

In part because of recent events in Baltimore City, Hogan has decided to sign HB 533 into law, allowing law enforcement officers to wear body cameras at all times without receiving consent from subjects in the video-feed.

Hogan remarked that a small part of the problem in the Freddie Gray case is that police are receiving only “bits and pieces of video from bystanders,” remarking that with body cams the entire incident would be reviewable.

“Everyone I talked to was in agreement, that it is a tragedy and we have to get to the bottom of this and find the answers of how this took place,” said Hogan, relaying how he has reached out to Baltimore City and the Attorney General’s Office.

Hogan also broke the news that state police will be assisting Baltimore County police officers as back-up during protests this week.

Hogan announced he will sign transparency, testing bills

Hogan

Gov. Larry Hogan answers questions at the 100 days event.

Two bills Hogan is looking forward to signing into law is the Public Information Act and SB 497, that will create a commission to study the effectiveness of testing in public schools.

“Transparency is something that we’ve talked about a lot in the past four years with Change Maryland and my campaign,” said Hogan on SB 695. “I am proud to announce this morning that I will sign that legislation and it’s a huge move forward for Maryland.”

Addressing overtesting children in Maryland schools is also on Hogan’s agenda.

“I think students are over tested, I think we are spending far too much time preparing them for the test and not actually teaching them,” said Hogan.

  • Dale McNamee

    I’m glad that Governor Hogan is standing firm on funding education.

    The education budget was increased, but not enough for the Progressives and their allies in the educational establishment…

    Class sizes need not increase, nor teachers be laid off if prudent budgeting and spending is done…

    Maybe, there will be fewer frills, but kids can still be educated with “old” technology… Even with no technology !

    I also agree with Governor Hogan regarding testing and ” teaching to the test “… How was it that students in earlier decades were able to graduate without taking such tests ?

    Could it be that the teachers back then actually taught students ?

    • Brendan Maltese

      Three points:

      1. You seem to placing the blame on teachers for giving so many standardized tests. Believe me, we’d LOVE to do away with them, but the decision is far from ours.

      2. The budget was increased in total dollars, but it’s a shortfall when you factor in the increase in enrollment. The total cost per student has decreased under Hogan, and that’s why…

      3. Teachers are losing their jobs. For example, earlier this week, every non-tenured teacher in Calvert County was given a packet with information on how to apply to be a substitute because of a budget crisis. There will be a lot of teachers cut there, and that will increase class sizes.

      • Dale McNamee

        Dear Brendan,

        Thanks for writing back.

        I agree that the decision regarding the test is “out of your hands”, but you should know who is pushing it at the local level and whether or not the public can pressure them to refuse the tests… I know that Federal funds are attached somehow and that money is hard
        to refuse…

        Regarding your second point… If
        the rise in enrollment is an issue,
        why not look at economizing in other areas ?

        How many administrators are there versus the number of teachers ?

        Could new schools be simpler in design and construction

        • Brendan Maltese

          Testing: It’s being pushed by Pearson, who is making a ton of money on it. They’re giving non-educators the false idea that testing is good, and they take the bait. Those decisions are made at the board level, many of whom are not educators, or haven’t been in a classroom in years. It is also tied to federal funds, which is why Common Core isn’t going anywhere.

          Enrollment: Can you please give me an example of economizing in another area? Do you mean within education? We currently are just getting by with $7,712 of government money per student, which is a number that hasn’t changed since 2009, even though inflation continues to run its course. How many private schools do you know of with tuition below $7,712? Considering all the “waste” that there is claimed to be in public education, I’d say it’s pretty economic.

          Admin to teachers: In one of my schools (I’m spread out among 4 schools – evidence of overcrowding), there are over 700 students, 47 full and part time teachers (including cultural arts), 14 reading/math/special education specialists, a principal, and an assistant principal. So 2 educators to over 60 teachers.

          School design: I teach band and strings outside in a trailer at two of my schools, on the stage at another (sometimes during lunches), and in a large storage closet. To me, a simpler design would be to provide me with actual classrooms where I have adequate space to do my job.

          • Dale McNamee

            Hello !

            As a “non-teacher”, I never bought Pearson’s propaganda, and I never bought into the need for a national test to prove that the kids are getting an education.

            I went to grade school & high school ( parochial for grade, public for high ) from 1959 – 1971, and was educated well enough to go in many directions as to my future…

            I could go to college, go into the military, then go to college, I could go to work and ” start off sweeping floors to becoming the owner”, and going to vo-tech trade schools, etc. (community college was in its infancy)…

            Some of those options aren’t available today…

          • Brendan Maltese

            I’m sorry, I’m not following… How does that pertain to this conversation? Also, I’m not sure which of those options you’re saying aren’t available today. I can easily name friends of mine in their 20s who went through each of those.

          • Dale McNamee

            My point was that there was no need for tests like PARRC or a nationwide curriculum to prove that we were educated.

            If you flunked a grade, you repeated it. If you flunked high school, you took your GED.

            That was sufficient for most to get on with life.

          • Brendan Maltese

            So you’re saying that the teachers shouldn’t be getting this money from the government because they are wasting the money they already get on a test that is required by the government?

            It sounds to me like you’re suggesting that we get punished for giving this test that we’ve been fighting to give from day 1. Where’s the sense in that?

          • Dale McNamee

            I’m not saying that at all !

            All I said is that a national “one size fits all ” test
            wasn’t needed to prove that
            students were educated and ready for a job, college, trade & tech school, etc.when I attended grade school & high-school. Nor was a national curriculum such as “Common Core ” needed.

            But, your last paragraph confused me… You said: ” That I’m suggesting that teachers be punished for giving the test that they have been fighting to give since “Day 1″… Shouldn’t that read : ” Opposing since Day 1″ ?

          • Brendan Maltese

            Okay, so we agree on the issue of testing. I’m operating under the assumption that you don’t support the GCEI money that is the topic of this article. If that’s true, I’m trying to convince you otherwise by saying:

            Teachers don’t want the standardized tests, so denying the GCEI money on the basis of “teachers are giving too many tests” is unfair, since the decision to give those tests is in the hands of the same government that is holding the GCEI money. It’s not our decision to make, so why are we the ones being punished for it?

          • Dale McNamee

            Regarding being punished…

            Unfortunately, the teachers are the “familiar faces” of the issue while those who push these tests are anonymous to the public…

            If the media did it’s job, people would know who to go after instead of the teachers in this case…

            How many people know what GCEI is ? Or understand it ?

            The question is: “If the school’s get the GCEI money, will there be a better
            educational result ?

          • Brendan Maltese

            So are you asking me to explain the GCEI to you? I can do that. I still can’t tell if you support it or not.

          • Dale McNamee

            I read about GCEI in the article and understand it… My comments were regarding the greater tax – paying public who pay taxes for public education who don’t…
            I realize that costs are different county to county, but can’t those costs be controlled by being judicious in what is spent ?

          • Brendan Maltese

            I’m your employer, and I’ve reassigned you to a position where you’ll be doing the same exact work for the same exact salary… But it’s in an area with a higher cost of living. Sorry, you’re just going to have to be more judicious in how you spend your money. Are you going to move, or are you updating your resume?

            But there’s another factor to the GCEI that I rarely see mentioned… Teacher salaries aren’t exactly correlated with the cost of living. They also take into account the student population. Baltimore City accounts for $11.6 million of the GCEI because they have to offer higher salaries to attract and retain teachers. I still don’t think they’re paying their teachers enough, which is why I wouldn’t touch a City job application. The things my City teacher friends go through are horrific.

          • Dale McNamee

            As for moving or updating my resume’, I’d be looking at moving and updating my resume’.

            As for higher cost areas, I know many people who live in areas like Carroll County, Frederick County, Shrewsbury, Pa., York, Pa., Delaware, and drive to their jobs in Maryland.
            But, that is their choice…

            My wife and I moved to Maryland from Pittsburgh in 1986. As you know, the economy took a very big, and very bad hit… We watched the local economy die and we left after considering several states…

            You mention the potential higher cost of living… We were shocked at the prosperity here, after experiencing the “hard scrabble” life in Western Pa.

            We were able to survive and to make it here by living frugally.

            And when we had saved for a house, we moved to a snall, non-descript town in Baltimore County, located between Baltimore City, Howard County, and Anne Arundel County. It was the only area where we found a house we could afford… Howard County was getting expensive back then… My wife is a member of a volunteer fire company in Howard County and we know many a fire-fighter, paid & volunteer, who don’t live in Howard County, although they protect people & property of the county… There are school teachers who do the same…

            I agree with you regarding the situation of teachers in Baltimore City… The school board is being questioned over some missing funds and they are stonewalling… I’ve followed the “travails” of the City school system since we moved to our house in 1990…
            I agree with you… I wouldn’t apply for a teaching job in Baltimore City… Decrepit buildings, unreachable/unteachable children, hostile parents, etc. in addition to the
            horrors that you report…

  • Vidi

    While it would be nice to get the $69 million in GCEI funding for schools, the budget for MoCo schools, for instance, is $2.3 BILLION. If losing its share of the $69 million is going to be the death of education in MoCo, the educational establishment is either emoting or not being truthful with the facts.

    • Brendan Maltese

      MoCo represents $17.7 million of that $69 million. That equates to the salaries of 299 teachers. Just a drop in the bucket, right?

      • Vidi

        The question really is: How is the $2.3 billion being spent? Overhead is 30 percent, per pupil costs are $13,000. Remove the 2% pension supplemental (given just to MoCo teachers – no other teachers in MD) and the savings are $53 million a year. That is a choice that has been made by MCPS – 2% pension supplemental vs 530 new teachers. Pension supplemental wins. Children lose.

        • Brendan Maltese

          I’m not familiar with that situation in MoCo, so I can’t really give you an educated answer on that. I would hazard a guess that a better pension is a good way to retain and recruit high quality teachers, the same way salary increases do. I have friends who have left my county to go other places because we have only gotten 1 salary step increase in the last 9 (9-ish, don’t quote me on that) years, even though our contract “guarantees” us one yearly.

          I’m not denying that every dollar of that $2.3 is being spent wisely by the business people (you know, the ones who think standardized testing is a good idea…) who decide where it goes. What I can say is that by the time a dollar amount gets to the actual school and in the hands of actual educators, there’s not enough to cover many basic needs. Teachers are fighting hard for this GCEI money because we know the money is there, the people have voted for it, and we know how valuable it is to doing our job the right way.