Rascovar: ‘Free’ tuition isn’t free

Talk on the far left about “free” college tuition got a boost last week from an acolyte of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the foremost proponent of this marvelous-sounding idea. Benjamin Jealous, former head of the NAACP who is running for governor, told a group of college students and progressive activists, to no one’s surprise, that his gubernatorial pitch includes free education for Marylanders at the state’s public colleges and universities.

Legislators weigh recommendations to expand pre-kindergarten

The state’s income threshold for families to qualify for free pre-kindergarten should be increased by more than 60%, a state workgroup told a legislative panel Tuesday.  The Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families, weighing universal schooling for 4-year-olds acknowledged, the need for an increase in funding for the early education program statewide. Maryland’s Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education has also tentatively agreed to recommend universal pre-K.

Kirwan education commission hashing out recommendations, including universal pre-kindergarten

The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education on Thursday will continue hashing out its recommendations for improving Maryland public schools and revising the funding formulas to pay for them — such as a proposal for universal pre-kindergarten. The commission, chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, will cap off the day with a long public hearing that has 60 people signed up to testify in Baltimore.

Practical solutions for schools based on facts, not ideology

Gov. Hogan and his Republican allies in the General Assembly have offered only unproven right-wing pabulum about school vouchers and unregulated charter schools. They suggest that the best solution for under-performing public schools is some form of privatization. And they buttress this argument by claiming that adequate education funding can’t solve these problems.

Howard County’s interim superintendent puts mark on school system

There’s a reason the local school superintendent is the highest paid local official in Maryland’s counties. It’s the toughest job in the county, heading the institutions where taxpayers spend the most money and that touch the most lives. The fierce competition for the top talent also drives up the salaries, and the average superintendent of large urban and suburban school system lasts only about four years in the job.

Crunch time coming for Kirwan commission; public hearings set

Crunch time is coming for the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan and commonly known as the Kirwan commission. After nine meetings over the past year, the 24-member commission has heard from dozens of experts and consultants on many aspects of education policy, practice and funding. Now, it’s time to make some recommendations and decisions for a report due to the governor and legislature in December.

Maryland lags behind some states on school spending

Maryland often prides itself on how good its schools are and how much it spends on them. But the Kirwan Commission studying the state’s school funding and how it spends the money was told on Wednesday that Maryland actually lags behind several states with better test scores — Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Hampshire. On the other hand, compared to countries with top-performing students, U.S. schools spend far more per pupil. The conclusion, according to commission’s lead consultant, is that “money matters but how it is spent matters greatly.” He made a number of key recommendations.

Rascovar: Judge shouldn’t play Humpty-Dumpty with Md. universities

It could be a cringe-worry moment when U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake finally rules on the lawsuit by black state universities demanding sweeping changes in Maryland’s public higher education system that benefit only their own campuses. In no way is Judge Blake qualified to disassemble Maryland’s well-regarded higher education network and then re-assemble the pieces in an entirely new way that miraculously makes historically black schools integrated and thriving learning institutions.

School scoring bill sent to Hogan, who promises veto

Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly on Tuesday passed legislation establishing parameters for school evaluations that the state school board strongly opposes and Gov. Larry Hogan has promised to veto. The House went along with Senate amendments, and sent the bill to Hogan, who called it “an utter disgrace.” If the bill is delivered to Hogan’s office by Monday, he has six days to act on it, giving the legislature the chance to override a veto before it adjourns April 10.