School systems must choose more standardized tests in the fall

Maryland public school systems will weigh this summer whether to add more standardized testing for 11th grade students in an effort to conform to a new state law that kicks in during the 2015-2016 academic year.

They face a choice of whether to add two Common Core-aligned tests to assess college and career readiness, or use scores from one of several already established college entrance exams like the SAT. It’s also possible students who take a college placement exam could be exempt from taking PARCC in school systems who elect to use it.

Legislators call for more diversity, standardized training for police

Lawmakers charged with making policy recommendations following the police custody death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray peppered state officials responsible for police hiring and training standards with questions about racial diversity at their first work session Monday.

“Obviously we’re missing something in the racial and ethnic diversity training on top of the excessive force training,” remarked Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D, Baltimore City.

Maryland State Board of Elections

Election board member calls for more openness about campaign finance investigations

The ranking Republican on the Maryland State Board of Elections is calling for more transparency when staff investigates campaign finance violations that have the potential to be referred to the State Prosecutor’s Office.

In March state election staff cleared former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s campaign for alleged campaign finance coordination during the 2014 gubernatorial primary election, but board members are still waiting for written documentation that supports the finding.

Analysts see 2 ‘hard core’ liberal Democrats running for U.S. Senate

Democratic primary voters should find little difference in political ideology between the two candidates running to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, according to outside analysts.

Both U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen are ranked “hard core liberals” by On The Issues, a political website that analyzes policy issues supported by federal, state and local politicians.

Race and gender may help Donna Edwards in race to replace Mikulski

Filling the shoes of retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski is going to be tough, but Congresswoman Donna Edwards, a leading voice among progressives, says she’s up to the task. Other prominent Maryland Democrats are considering a run for the seat, and Congressman Chris Van Hollen has already announced his candidacy, carrying a similar progressive torch – including advocating for women’s rights.

Purple Line Part II: Arguments against building the $2.4 billion light rail line in the D.C. suburbs

This is the second of two stories about whether Gov.-elect Larry Hogan will choose to move forward on one of the most major transportation projects being proposed in the state, the 16-mile light rail Purple Line in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Moving forward on the Purple Line would be a major financial commitment for Hogan, who has at times been harshly critical of the project. Our first piece examined the benefits to the project; this story examines some of the concerns with the $2.4 billion proposal.

Purple Line Part I: To build or not to build a $2.4 billion light rail line

Plans to connect Bethesda to New Carrollton by light rail have been in the works for nearly 15 years. The Purple Line started off as a $1.2 billion transportation initiative in 2000. The transit line is now projected to cost $2.4 billion, or a little over $150 million per mile.

Developers want it. Business wants it. But does the incoming Republican governor want it?
This is the first of two stories examining the pros and cons of the Purple Line. Today’s story focuses on the positive arguments. Tomorrow’s story will focus on opposing arguments.

Brown concedes and predicts ‘tough road’ for Hogan

“Tonight we fell short of our goal,” Brown told his supporters in his concession speech, “but it does not and cannot diminish the work that each and every one of you has done in our communities throughout our state.” Brown said to hearty applause. “This was a tough campaign because there was a lot at stake and a lot worth fighting for. Governing is difficult, demanding work. Larry and his team have a tough road ahead of them. I wish them the very best as they travel that road.”

Montgomery County turnout a question mark in governor’s race

One of the safest Democratic strongholds in the state – Montgomery County – is being tested this election season as Republican nominee for governor Larry Hogan Jr. closes in on Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for what once seemed like his easy elevation to the top job.

Early voting tallies show Montgomery increased turnout by only a 1% compared to the 2010 gubernatorial election, and that is with roughly 60,000 more eligible voters added to the rolls. Montgomery is far below the statewide average of 8.3% and had the third lowest turnout in the state.