Delegate challenges Rascovar on school choice, funding

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By Delegate Trent Kittleman


In his Sept. 17th column, Barry Rascovar berates Gov. Hogan for his position on education reforms.  He charges that Hogan: “wants to replace weak-performing schools with a privatized, multiple-choice system for educating children.”

Gov. Hogan would “love to shut down failing schools and give student vouchers to attend private schools.”

Mr. Rascovar believes that this is a problem.

Somehow, he believes that keeping children in failing schools is far preferable to allowing any sort of private alternative, regardless of how well the private alternative may perform actually to educate kids.

No one is arguing that charter schools, school vouchers and programs such as the BOOST scholarship program can cure all ills, and no one is suggesting that private alternatives should replace public education.  But it’s simply wrong to refuse to consider such programs as an alternative to a public school that has failed its students year after year.   Ask yourself, for the children stuck in one of the myriad failing schools, how much worse can it get?

I represent Howard and Carroll Counties.  Last spring, Howard and Carroll students scored better than every other jurisdiction in nearly every grade and subject on Maryland’s annual standardized tests.

But what about the kids who don’t live here?  In Baltimore City, for example, only 15% of students overall were passing those same tests!  For over 40 years, we’ve been pouring more and more money into the Baltimore City Public School System  expecting education to improve.

Can’t buy our way into good schools

It hasn’t.  We’ve wasted almost 40 years of children hoping that we can buy our way into a good education and it hasn’t worked!

Since 1978 when the state created a funding formula to account for the differences in local wealth and to equalize funding across all districts, the effort to bring education parity to the children of Baltimore City with money has FAILED.

It’s been just 15 years since the Thornton funding went into effect, vastly increasing education funding to less wealthy jurisdictions such as the City.  Baltimore City now has the 4th highest per-pupil expenditure out of the 100 largest school districts in the nation.  And Baltimore City teachers are paid the highest average salary in the State

Notwithstanding all this, the newest study commissioned by the state to update Thornton thinks that the state should give Baltimore an extra $434 million per year.

And this year, we passed a bill to increase the city’s school budget by another $129 million by exempting them from paying the Maryland Transit Administration for the students who ride the public buses to school.  In other words, we are now subsidizing Baltimore City Schools out of the Transportation Trust Fund.

If there was any hope that more funding would actually improve education for the children in Baltimore City (and elsewhere), I would be glad to support such funding.  But funding alone doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked, and there is no earthly reason to believe it suddenly will work in the future

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result the next time.

Let’s stop this insanity.  It’s time to give these alternatives a try.

Delegate Trent Kittleman, R, Howard-Carroll, can be reached