Delegate challenges Rascovar on school choice, funding

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By Delegate Trent Kittleman

For MarylandReporter.com

In his Sept. 17th column, Barry Rascovar berates Gov. Hogan for his position on education reforms.  He charges that Hogan: “wants to replace weak-performing schools with a privatized, multiple-choice system for educating children.”

Gov. Hogan would “love to shut down failing schools and give student vouchers to attend private schools.”

Mr. Rascovar believes that this is a problem.

Somehow, he believes that keeping children in failing schools is far preferable to allowing any sort of private alternative, regardless of how well the private alternative may perform actually to educate kids.

No one is arguing that charter schools, school vouchers and programs such as the BOOST scholarship program can cure all ills, and no one is suggesting that private alternatives should replace public education.  But it’s simply wrong to refuse to consider such programs as an alternative to a public school that has failed its students year after year.   Ask yourself, for the children stuck in one of the myriad failing schools, how much worse can it get?

I represent Howard and Carroll Counties.  Last spring, Howard and Carroll students scored better than every other jurisdiction in nearly every grade and subject on Maryland’s annual standardized tests.

But what about the kids who don’t live here?  In Baltimore City, for example, only 15% of students overall were passing those same tests!  For over 40 years, we’ve been pouring more and more money into the Baltimore City Public School System  expecting education to improve.

Can’t buy our way into good schools

It hasn’t.  We’ve wasted almost 40 years of children hoping that we can buy our way into a good education and it hasn’t worked!

Since 1978 when the state created a funding formula to account for the differences in local wealth and to equalize funding across all districts, the effort to bring education parity to the children of Baltimore City with money has FAILED.

It’s been just 15 years since the Thornton funding went into effect, vastly increasing education funding to less wealthy jurisdictions such as the City.  Baltimore City now has the 4th highest per-pupil expenditure out of the 100 largest school districts in the nation.  And Baltimore City teachers are paid the highest average salary in the State

Notwithstanding all this, the newest study commissioned by the state to update Thornton thinks that the state should give Baltimore an extra $434 million per year.

And this year, we passed a bill to increase the city’s school budget by another $129 million by exempting them from paying the Maryland Transit Administration for the students who ride the public buses to school.  In other words, we are now subsidizing Baltimore City Schools out of the Transportation Trust Fund.

If there was any hope that more funding would actually improve education for the children in Baltimore City (and elsewhere), I would be glad to support such funding.  But funding alone doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked, and there is no earthly reason to believe it suddenly will work in the future

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result the next time.

Let’s stop this insanity.  It’s time to give these alternatives a try.

Delegate Trent Kittleman, R, Howard-Carroll, can be reached trent.kittleman@house.state.md.us

  • Lisa Moore

    It depends on what one views as an education. If the system is designed to be test centric, then the only thing that will be “taught” is what will be on the standardized test….and that’s not education. The tests are an indicator of areas of poverty and nothing more and schools cannot be viewed as the place for ALL social type services to occur. Teachers simply cannot be social workers, psychologists, nurses, librarians, baby sitters, dr’s, parents etc etc. The mandates from the top are what are failing the children. Get rid of the tests, cut ties with Pearson/PARCC, get rid of most of the ed tech and allow teachers to have the autonomy to do their job. POVERTY is a 7 letter dirty word and until that problem is addressed, there will be no change. Yes, the government spends an enormous amount on money, but they are spending it on the wrong things that will fail children every single time. Children are more than a test result on a worthless, expensive test that the government has decided will determine who gets a good life and who doesn’t. Yes, doing the same thing over and over is crazy and throwing tax dollars at the next big fad is just as stupid. My gosh, we had the ability to put a man on the moon without fancy computers and frills. Let’s get education back to a time when the kids were actually learning and thinking and enjoying the school experience.

  • Bohsandos2015

    A few fewer “!” and less CAPITALIZATION for purposes of emphasis would make this piece a whole lot more credible.

    • lenlazarick

      Two exclamation points, BOOST is an acronym like FBI, so one capitalized word for emphasis. I think lower-casing the entire article wouldn’t have made the piece more credible for this reader.

      • Bohsandos2015

        But at least it would sound a little less 13-year old girlish!

        • lenlazarick

          And sexist to boot. Women who are not journalists do tend to use more exclamation points in their writing, but you’re squawking about two!!!!

          • Bohsandos2015

            Cut the sanctimonious crap, Len. Holding elected officials to higher editing standards than standard blog trolls should be expected, not chastised. And it’s entirely appropriate to hold those individuals to higher writing standards than teenage scribble. Moreover, I’ve worked my entire adult career supporting civil rights for all people so let’s not be presumptuous about me from two comments.

  • ksteve

    Delegate Trent Kittleman of my county claims that “no one is suggesting that private alternatives should replace public education.” Ask Betsy DeVos! That seems to be her goal. And it seems like it’s Governor Larry Hogan’s goal too. He insists on providing more and more funding for non-public schools (most of which are religious) while grudgingly including money for the only schools we all control (the public ones).
    I submit that if any public schools anywhere are failing, it is our collective fault. We need to try harder and maybe do something different in order to prevent such failure. It’s for sure we can’t control what happens in somebody else’s religious schools, but we can control what happens in ours.
    Public schools exist in neighborhoods and some neighborhoods have more problems than others. So it’s more than the schools themselves than need improvement. We need to work on improving the neighborhood around the schools and providing education and jobs to the people who live in those neighborhoods.
    I repeat what I have said many times before. Religious schools are protected by the First Amendment in their right to discriminate in the selection of students and staff. That Amendment also enables them to teach whatever they choose. If they want to teach that women should accept a traditional secondary role in society and that they definitely should not have the right to control their own body’s reproductive processes, that persons of the same sex should not be allowed to marry, that people who are suffering and near death should not have the right to end their suffering, and/or that they are the one true religion, they are totally free to do so. The rest of us should not be required to subsidize their religious beliefs. Let the true believers subsidize themselves and pay their own bills. If Delegate Kittleman, Governor Hogan, and Betsy DeVos want to join them in paying those bills, they are free to do so. But don’t require the rest of us to join them. For the general public, our responsibility is to aim at providing an excellent public educational system that is capable of providing for the needs of all children. And that is where our public educational responsibility ends or ought to end.

  • Phil727ck

    When it comes to alternatives, we should be taking an all the above approach; vouchers, charter schools, vocational education…But as far as charter schools are concerned, Maryland has the weakest charter school system as ranked by the National Alliance of Charter Schools. We are number 44 out of 44. This is chiefly because Maryland ties the charter school program to the local school jurisdiction providing little autonomy. There’s also a lack of accountability just as there is in public schools. If the lines could be severed between the charter schools and the local jurisdiction, then the charter schools can innovate and try different approaches. Just a thought…..