Supporters of Md. schools bill rally against Hogan veto

WASHINGTON — Supporters of a bill approved by Maryland lawmakers to identify struggling schools are speaking out against Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to veto the measure.

Democrats and representatives of the state’s teachers union blasted the governor Thursday and urged the General Assembly to override his veto.

“The governor is just wrong on this,” Del. Eric Luedtke, the bill’s sponsor, told WTOP. “Parents and students and teachers in Maryland have been arguing for years that we need less testing.”

“We need to focus on the things that will really improve our schools, and that’s what this bill does,” Luedtke said.

The bill creates a formula for identifying low-performing schools.

Supporters in the Democratic-led legislature say the formula takes into consideration some important factors beyond academic performance, such as attendance, safety and teacher quality. They also say it protects public schools from privatization.

“This bill will make sure that the state can’t privatize your kid’s neighborhood school against your wishes,” Luedtke said.

But the Republican governor said the measure would make Maryland’s school system one of the least accountable in the United States.

Hogan vetoed the Protect Our Schools Act on Wednesday, saying it’s too lax on academic performance standards, caves in to special interests and makes it “nearly impossible” for the state to fix struggling schools.

“Instead of racing to the top, we would be trapped in a race to the bottom,” Hogan said.

The state’s teachers union, the Maryland State Education Association, disagreed, calling Hogan’s claims “out of touch.”

“It’s profoundly frustrating that the governor refuses to stand with parent, educator, and civil rights groups in support of a smarter, more transparent approach to holding schools accountable,” said union president Betty Weller.

“We’re going to be focusing on what really matters to kids and not just making sure that they’re very skilled test takers,” she said. “Students are more than test scores.”

Both houses of the General Assembly passed the bill with a veto-proof majority. Luedtke said he expects the governor’s veto to be overridden sometime Thursday or Friday at the latest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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