PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

House Approves Senate Amendments to Pass Education Plan

ANNAPOLIS — One day after the Maryland Senate granted approval of a comprehensive education plan with some amendments, its colleagues across the hall in the House of Delegates chamber concurred Tuesday to officially approve it.

The 96-38 vote now moves the $3.8 billion legislation to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk, which he’s criticized as too expensive to pay for college and career readiness, boost teacher salaries and expand early childhood.

Immediately after the vote, some delegates clapped. Some pointed their cellphones at the voting board.

Two of the House Democratic leaders, Majority Leader Eric Luedtke and Del. Maggie McIntosh, lightly embraced on legislation they and others worked on at least three years ago.

“Good work, everyone,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones said.

The General Assembly will abruptly end Wednesday due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and Maryland’s subsequent state of emergency. The 90-day season was scheduled to end April 6.

In terms of the Senate amendments, one of the major items deals with its possible effects on the economy due to the virus.

The amendment, offered by Senate Majority Leader Nancy J. King of Montgomery County, stipulates that if state revenues in December are more than 7.5 percent below estimates in March of that year, then “per pupil increase in major education aid … shall be limited to the rate of inflation.”

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings also had an amendment approved that would reduce the student-teacher ratio, offer additional resources to teachers and assist students who need “extra help.”

The Senate approved its version 37-9 on Monday, after the House first approved its version March 6.

The bill comes from three years of recommendations put together by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. The group is also known as the Kirwan Commission, after its chair, former University of Maryland System Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan.

The policies in the bill include:

Increasing annual teacher salaries up to $60,000.
Creating an independent Accountability and Implementation board to ensure school boards adhere to education policies.
Providing each middle and high school student with individualized career counseling services.
Ensuring teachers receive professional development training on racial awareness, cultural competency, religious tolerance and restorative practices

Immediately after the House voted Tuesday, some lawmakers such as Del. Anne Healy (D-District 22) of Hyattsville wanted to explain their support of the bill. She explained how the county has more than 80,000 students on free and reduced lunch.

“We want to overcome pockets of poverty … and this [bill] will do it,” she said.

Because both chambers passed the bill, lawmakers can override a veto by Hogan when lawmakers plan to return for a special session on the last week of May.

Strong Schools Maryland, a Baltimore-based nonprofit organization that supported the legislation, released a statement to urge Hogan to sign the bill.

“There is simply no way to overstate the significance of what the Maryland General Assembly has done today,” said Joe Francaviglia, executive director of Strong Schools Maryland. “Maryland legislators have stepped up to build a brighter future for the kids of our state. We now call on Governor Hogan to sign the bill without delay. Maryland’s children are depending on us now more than ever.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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