Maryland panel calls for change to state education

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A group of Maryland lawmakers proposed legislation aimed at improving the state’s pre-K-12 education system and, at the same time, responded to the governor’s criticism of the legislation’s architect, the 25-member Kirwan Commission.

The legislation, House bill 1415 and Senate bill 1092, also would create an early-literacy initiative and other resources for students living in poverty, and promote career and technical education.

“The harsh reality is Maryland schools, at present, are a long, long way from being the best in the world,” said William “Brit” Kirwan, the chancellor emeritus of the University of Maryland system, at a news conference Thursday.

Kirwan said there are five areas the commission sees as critical to improving education in the state. Recommendations from the commission include providing all-day preschool for all 4-year-old children and all low-income 3-year-olds.

Kirwan also said spending for education of children who live in poverty should be increased, and that teaching certification standards should be raised — along with compensation.

The report also recommends making sure that students are college or career-ready by 10th grade. Finally, the commission said governance and accountability on education policy should be strengthened.

The report released Thursday is a preliminary document, Kirwan said, and it will be used to “jump start” legislative efforts in Annapolis. Kirwan said the full report will be released later this year.

A day before the commission released its report, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters: “I don’t know what the Kirwan Commission has done. You don’t hear about the Kirwan Commission anymore. I think we ought to send a search party out to find out where they are and what happened.”

Maryland House Speaker Pro-Tem Del. Adrienne Jones said of those comments: “That ticked me off.”

She took the opportunity to respond to Hogan’s comments at Thursday’s unveiling of the Kirwan Commission report as she held up a document. “Governor Hogan — January 9th — the interim report we gave you. You have two members of your cabinet serving on the Kirwan Commission.”

Hogan’s Secretary of the Budget David Brinkley is on the commission, as is State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon. Two members of the State Board of Education, Dr. Chester Finn and Dr. David Steiner, also sit on the commission.

The 125-page preliminary report released Thursday is the result of 17 days of public hearings, Jones said.

Capital News Service’s Hannah Brockway contributed to this report.

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