Senate passes spending mandate to make college more affordable

With the cost of college rising and student loan debt a growing issue, the Maryland Senate Friday passed legislation that establishes a matching state contribution to eligible college savings accounts and creates a refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 for undergraduate student loan debt. The bill costs the state $52 million over the next five years. Because it is new mandated spending, most Senate Republicans voted against the bill when it passed 34-11.

Miri Kahn, left, and Rosheda Harrell work at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and supported HB72.

Supporters push for bill to prevent child sexual abuse and assault in schools

Advocates and victims convened in Annapolis on Wednesday to testify before the Senate education committee on a measure to raise awareness about sexual assault and abuse in schools. Sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke, HB 72 would require the State Board of Education and private schools who benefit from the state’s Nonpublic Schools Textbook and Technology Grants program to establish and enforce an age-appropriate program that would educate students about preventing sexual abuse and assault.

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Limit on school testing passes House, as do other measures to control testing

Reflecting overwhelming bipartisan opposition to over-testing of public school students, the House of Delegates on Monday voted unanimously to restrict mandated standardized testing to 2% of instructional time -- about 20 hours per school year. The bill was the most comprehensive of a package of bills in House and Senate reflecting the eagerness of teachers and parents to limit the amount of tests imposed by federal, state and local authorities.

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Rascovar: At Mt. St. Mary’s, Newman was wolf in the hen house

Putting a wolf in charge of the hen house would be terribly irresponsible. Yet that’s what trustees at Mount Saint Mary’s University in rural Emmitsburg did – with horrific results, writes columnist Barry Rascovar. It’s a classic case of poor judgment by college trustees and a lesson for other Maryland higher education institutions eager to run their campuses more like a business and less like an academic citadel.

Photo by Alessia Grunberger, MarylandReporter.com

Supporters say Maryland Education Credit would provide more opportunities

700 private school students from across the state saw the legislative process in action when they marched to the State House and urged lawmakers to pass the Maryland Education Credit bills. Inspired by successful programs in 16 other states, the Maryland Education Credit in SB 706 is designed to address affordability and accessibility concerns that limit a family’s ability to send a child to a private school.

University of Maryland by carmichaellibrary with Flickr Creative Commons License

Opinion: A tale of two universities or one big one — revisiting UMd merger

Five years ago the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland concluded that a full-fledged merger of the system’s flagship campus at College Park with the professional schools in downtown Baltimore created more problems than the presumed benefits. Now the idea is back full force before the Maryland General Assembly. Laslo Boyd analyzes the pluses and minuses.

Sens. Jamie Raskin, left, and Paul Pinsky, right, discuss school superintendent bill.

Rascovar: Hogan wins important victory on schools

Mixing politics and education can be lethal. They are best kept far apart. That’s why Maryland, for 100 years, has isolated the governor and state lawmakers from the process of choosing the state superintendent of schools. Liberal Democrats in the General Assembly, though, sought to change that. Their effort failed, with good reason.

Sen. Jim Brochin left debates with Sen. Paul Pinsky on schools superintendent bill.

Senators debate empowering themselves to approve state schools superintendent

The Maryland Senate debated Thursday over an emergency bill that would give them greater influence over the Board of Education’s next superintendent appointee. The bill, which Republican senators characterized as politically motivated, would require the Democrat-controlled Senate to authorize the Maryland Board of Education’s appointee for state superintendent.

Mount St. Mary's

Rebranding Mount St. Mary’s

If you believe that all press is good press, Simon Newman is a marketing genius. The new president of Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg has managed to attract national attention for his university with a single turn of phrase.

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Limits proposed on standardized school testing — 2% of class time

Instead of waiting for a state commission to finish studying overtesting in Maryland’s public schools, legislators working with teachers and parents are pushing a standardized testing limit of 2% of annual instructional time. Organizations representing school superintendents and school boards across Maryland are urging lawmakers to reject the proposal, HB141, and wait for the testing commission's initial recommendations due July 1.