‘Governor’ Franchot would apply litmus test to school board appointments

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Comptroller Peter Franchot

Comptroller Peter Franchot

Comptroller Peter Franchot denied that his push for financial literacy requirements in all state schools was a product of his political ambitions, “which may or may not include a run for governor.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” he insisted.

But “if I were to run for governor, and if I were fortunate to win,” Franchot said he would have “a litmus test for any appointment to the state school board” or the local boards of education where the governor still makes the choice. They would have to support a financial literacy course requirement for graduation.

If a school board nominee chose to “side with the bureaucrats” in resisting the course requirement,  “you would not receive an appointment or retention in a Franchot administration.”

This was apparently the first time he has made reference to a position he might take if elected governor.

The state school board has established a financial literacy curriculum integrated into other courses, but for a fourth year in a row, Franchot is backing legislation that mandates a course in personal finance as a requirement for high school graduation.

School systems in six counties have established the requirement – Carroll, Talbot, Allegany, Frederick, Charles and Calvert counties.

But school boards elsewhere have adamantly opposed a legislative mandate, as they routinely oppose other meddling by legislators in what schools should teach.

Franchot noted that the President’s national financial literacy initiative ranks Maryland high school students 37th in the nation on their knowledge of personal finance.

According to the 2012 Assets and Opportunities Scorecard, Maryland came in 45th for credit card debt with an average balance of $13,000, compared to a national average of $10,852.

Some counties object to the possible cost, but cosponsor Sen. Rich Colburn, R-Dorchester, said, “This can be done at little or no cost.”

“We cannot afford not to do this,” said Tammy Darvish, vice president of DARCARS Automotive Group. She said her company sees thousands of credit reports each month, and “it’s shocking to see the damage that has already occurred.”

There are basic financial skills, such as balancing a checkbook or understanding interest rates, that should be “standard equipment” in any education.

There was a hearing on the bill Wednesday, at which Franchot submitted a petition with 10,000 signatures supporting the measure. Sponsored by Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, the Senate has passed the legislation two years in a row, but it has failed to make it out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

–Len Lazarick

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Karlpfrommer

    I’m not happy with Franchot’s appointed school board ideas either. Imposing politicians’ ideas upon the public is more about control. Everything Franchot, or any other politician says publicly is intended to further her or,his political interests. Whose he kidding when he denies this? 

    It’s ironic to note that the noted school systems in six counties, which have established the financial education requirement – Carroll, Talbot, Allegany, Frederick, Charles and Calvert counties, all have elected school boards. What does that say about an independent board? Right on!

  2. Janestern

    Such a great deal of misinformation is being spread by Comptroller Franchot that it is hard to know where to begin. In fact, the recently-instituted mandatory financial literacy curriculum must be taught in ALL counties in the state under a Maryland State Board of Education bylaw passed two years ago. The instruction must begin in third grade and continue through high school.  At present, the local boards of education have the option of whether to offer the high school portion of the instruction in a standalone course required for graduation or to include such instruction in other courses which are also required for graduation.  So far, eighteen local school boards have chosen to offer the financial literacy curriculum in required courses in which other things are taught as well.  Six have chosen the standalone course.  In either case, students will have to have this instruction and will have to be tested on it as they are in all high school courses.

    Comptroller Franchot makes much of the more than ten thousand signatures which he claims to have obtained in support of his initiative to require all local school systems to meet the requirement with a standalone course.  It is clear from reading his website, where he urges people to sign the petition, that he has misrepresented the current state of things in order to get the signatures.  He explicitly states, “Currently only five counties in the state require financial literacy education for all students.”  That cannot be true, since the State Board of Education has mandated that, one way or another, all students must receive that instruction, and all county boards of education are now onboard requiring it..

  3. Prankin

    Oh, great.  Now we have pre-governors with litmus tests for appointees.  Would he also have litmus tests for judges? Commission members?  Would Mr. Franchot support a Republican gubernatorial candidate’s right to impose litmus tests on appointees?

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