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.

Fish already returning to Patapsco as work begins to take down dam

 Bloede Dam should be gone by the spring of 2019. And, biologists shouldn’t have long to wait to see some action. Sampling surveys conducted in the Patapsco River below the dam have collected hundreds of alewife and blueback herring returning each spring as well as a similar number of juveniles later in the year — an indication of successful spawning.

Our poll was about the state of public thinking, not a prediction

The central argument in Mr. Rascovar’s piece is that a poll taken in mid-September can’t predict what will happen in June 2018. You will get no argument from me, or any other pollster, on this point. Polls can tell you the current state of a race or opinion toward a policy or elected officials during the time the survey is fielded, but can’t tell you what the public will be thinking in the future. The purpose of our poll was to find out where Democratic voters are at now—in mid-September—not to say where they will be in June 2018. 

Widespread management problems persist in Health Dept., state’s largest, auditors find

State auditors found “unsatisfactory” accountability and compliance levels within the highest management echelons of the Department of Health, the state’s largest agency. The auditors’ “unsatisfactory” designation is reserved under state law to a few large state agencies who demonstrate chronic inability to maintain a reasonable level of internal control, and cannot fix problems identified in past audits. Major problems have persisted over multiple years and several governors.

Enviros challenge $1.6B plan to fix chronic Baltimore sewage overflows

It appears that a federal judge will have to settle a serious disagreement over whether the city of Baltimore has a credible new plan for curtailing the frequent sewage overflows and chronic leaks that have long made the harbor and urban waters unsafe for recreation. A local environmental group, Blue Water Baltimore, has asked a federal judge to reject the plan, unless it is further strengthened.