As battle lines harden over how much reform of public schools in Maryland will cost and who will pay for it, the argument has become just about money, and not the scores of moving parts in a comprehensive proposal that would drastically change education here. Lost in arguing about the billions more the changes will cost state and local taxpayers is the key fifth part of the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (p.122). It spells out in detail how a new super oversight board will hold the school systems accountable for how the money is spent.
Del. Trent Kittleman, R-9A Howard County, the grandmother of six students in Howard County public schools, questions Superintendent Michael Martirano plan to move 7,400 students to relieve overcrowding but also to achieve “socioeconomic integration.” Kittleman says the moves will harm many children.
The Kirwan Commission’s real aim is hiking teacher pay by $3 billion a year, and it is why the state teachers’ unions are so strongly backing it – more teacher pay. Kirwan aims at “making teacher salaries more competitive with other professions.”
Instead of spending close to $3 million dollars as that is the projected transportation cost associated with Dr. Martirano’s proposal, a prudent way to spend this money would be educating school staff about trauma. No curriculum or instruction provided by the best Howard County teachers will succeed if a student is under chronic stress.
Psychiatrist Shobhit Negi writes that the recommended area adjustment plan for Howard County schools is a shortcut approach to a larger issue that our society faces. It is analogous to applying a Band-Aid over a wound while letting it bleed internally. His concerns are related to the biological and psychological ramifications associated with implementation of the superintendent’s recommendation.
Legal but politically stupid. That was the decision last week by the workgroup on school spending to go into closed session to begin hashing out funding formulas. This was a shocker from a commission that has been remarkably open and transparent.
The Howard County superintendent’s redistricting plan forces 7,300 students to switch schools, promoting equity by reducing the presence of low-income families at some schools and increasing their presence at other schools. Many of the plan’s proponents cannot defend it in good faith. Consider the example set by the County Council’s own segregation smear.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Workgroup, has now been created to make recommendations for the distribution of funds by local school districts and between state and local governments. This workgroup will also make recommendations for specific funding formulas. I am greatly troubled by the make-up of the workgroup, which has only two members to represent interests of the county governments that pay the local costs of schools.
Larger classroom sizes are not only more difficult for teachers to manage but they also have been proven to make it more difficult for students to learn. Recently, when U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos advocated for super-sizing classroom sizes, teachers like me were outraged. It’s clear Secretary DeVos has NEVER worked with students in a classroom before. Otherwise, she would not have said that.
The fifth annual speech to Maryland Business for Responsive Government was billed as a chance for Gov. Larry Hogan to lay out his “second-term priorities” on fighting crime, improving education and fixing traffic problems. But the top priority he laid out in his 2,800-word speech to a crowd of more than 600 business leaders at the Live Casino Hotel in Arundel Mills seemed to be fighting Democratic legislators to keep them from blocking his initiatives, raising taxes and turning back to the “failed policies” of the O’Malley years.
To be a teacher these days, we are also social workers, counselors, life coaches, and frontline health responders to Prince George’s County Public School (PGCPS) kids, every day, in our classrooms and in the halls of our schools, says Prince George’s County teacher Yvonne Baicich in an opinion piece we publish to mark the national Teacher Appreciation Day.