National experts on state education systems are scheduled to make presentations to the state commission examining state funding and standards for the Maryland public schools Monday afternoon in the House Appropriations Committee hearing room in Annapolis.
Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its first meeting Sept. 29 and heard an overview of education policy and statistics from State School Superintendent Karen Salmon. She focused on changes in Maryland public schools since 2002, when the massive increase in state aid began from the recommendations of the Thornton Commission. Major changes are the 169% increase in Hispanic students and the 45% increase in the number of disadvantaged students.
The commission also heard a history of education funding in Maryland from staff at the Department of Legislative Services, which is also staffing the commission. The commission also got a preliminary report on a consultant’s study of adequacy of school funding at the present time.
PowerPoint presentations on all three reports are attached to thebottom of the Sept. 29 agenda.
The agenda of Monday’s meeting includes:
- A summary of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal law on primary and secondary education act, by Lee Posey of National Conference of State Legislatures. Posey will also present a report on How to build a world-class education system state by state
- Lessons from Top Performing Education Systems by Marc Tucker of the National Center on Education and the Economy
- Implementing System Reform by Tucker and by David Driscoll, former commissioner of education in Massachusetts.
“They have been quite successful as a state,” Kirwan said. “How did Massachusetts get to where it is?”
- Superintendent Salmon will also give an overview of accountability and student performance.
The commission meetings are live streamed and archived on the General Assembly website.
An earlier story listed the commission members with links to their bios. Not on that original list but appointed by the governor to the commission is Scott Dorsey, chairman and CEO of Merritt Properties, who also chairs the board of the Maryland Economic Development Commission and the advocacy group Maryland Business for Responsive Government.
He is one of the few commission members who is not a legislator or does not have any ties to education.
No speaker is assigned during this meeting to address affordability of recommendations in the financing adequacy study released earlier this month (which this commission is charged with evaluating.) That study recommends a 39% hike in State school spending and 12% hike in local spending. I don’t see how those hikes can be justified or how this meeting is connected to most taxpayers’ interests. This commission has a sunset date and deadlines; prosecuting its work to address the hard questions leaves little time for touchy-feely collaboration such as this meeting will accomplish.