PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Kirwan Commission Presses Case on Education to Assembly

ANNAPOLIS — The same day Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released a summary of his proposed fiscal year 2021 budget, a state Senate committee held a briefing Tuesday to hear from the main cheerleader on plans to change the state’s public education structure.

Although legislation hasn’t been introduced, William E. “Brit” Kirwan implored lawmakers on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee a stronger education system must be implemented in Maryland.

“We want to be as good as any schools in the world,” Kirwan said during the 2½-hour session. We’ve got to give our kids a chance to be successful as any other in the world. This was the right charge.”

Kirwan led the call on the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission, named after him because of his education knowledge as the former chancellor of the University of Maryland System.

So far, at least two years of funding has been approved by state lawmakers toward a college and career readiness standard by the end of 10th grade, additional resources for students with disabilities, and increases in teacher salaries.

Commission supporters seek legislation to approve remaining recommendations to expand early childhood, hire a more diverse teaching workforce and provide services for students in underserved communities.

However, some officials aren’t sure a proposed funding formula to pay for the plan may work.

The proposed cost to fund this plan would be about $4 billion – $2.8 billion from the state and another $1.2 billion from local jurisdictions.

The two majority-Black areas are slated to contribute the most by 2030 — Prince George’s County at nearly $361 million and Baltimore City at $330 million.

“Prince George’s County and Baltimore City are the two places that really, really need this,” said Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-District 24) of Landover. “We need a small group of experts who have the educational background to come up with a way in which we can fund the program. Right now, it’s going to be very difficult to come up with the kind of money to fully implement this program.”

House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson have said there will be some changes to the formula so jurisdictions wouldn’t be hurt financially.

Kirwan said doing nothing isn’t an option, especially when he reiterates only 40 percent of Maryland students graduate each year as college and career ready.

“Knowing this information borders in my mind on almost immoral not to do something to fix these problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, a group of union and other civic organizations called the Maryland Fair Funding Coalition plans to hold a press conference Wednesday to raise revenue toward the Kirwan Commission recommendations.

Officials that include Dels. Julie Palakovich Carr (D-Montgomery County and Stephanie Smith (D-Baltimore City) plan to attend to unveil a funding revenue package.

A few legislative proposals would be to restructure personal income tax brackets and rates and require multistate corporations to pay “their fair share” in corporate taxes for profits generated in Maryland.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hogan released a summary of next year’s proposed budget that includes $7.3 billion toward education, $280 million for projects to protect the Chesapeake Bay and other water outlets statewide and $74.5 million in police aid for local governments.

The spending plan Hogan labeled the “accountability budget” proposed a Rainy Day fund of about 6 percent, or $242 million than required.

“Our FY 2021 budget reflects the most urgent priorities of Marylanders – crime, education, transportation and the environment⁠while keeping the commitment I first made five years ago to bring fiscal restraint to Annapolis and to hold the line on unaffordable spending, Hogan said in a statement.

The full budget proposal is scheduled for release Wednesday.

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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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