Time Running Out on Education Bills

Time Running Out on Education Bills

Time is running out for lawmakers to act on several high-profile education bills in Annapolis.

During this year’s legislative session, Project Baltimore highlighted three education bills that deal with accountability, money and results. Here’s where they stand.

“One thing that everybody in Maryland agrees on is we need more accountability in education,” says Governor Larry Hogan. “And your series has brought a lot of people’s attention to Baltimore City, and the reason for more accountability there, but it's really a problem across the state.”

The Accountability in Education Act, which was partially spurred by Project Baltimore investigations, creates a state-wide Investigator General devoted to investigating our state’s public education system. Governor Hogan introduced the bill. But so far, it’s stuck in both House and Senate committees where it was introduced. Opponents say it’s too centralized.

“There are some concerns with it in terms of the appropriateness of creating and independent office at the state level or we should do that at the local level,” says Del. Eric Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat. “We have, traditionally, a system of local control of education and we have to be careful we don’t have the state take over schools.”

Project Baltimore has also reported on a piece of legislation that would establish a state-wide reading policy.

“Very little is being done now. When you look at our PARCC scores, our reading scores, they’re terrible,” says Carroll County Delegate Susan Krebs, who sponsored the legislation.

The bill mandates students in third grade read at grade level before moving to fourth grade. It’s also still in committee, but a similar bill has passed the House and awaits a vote in the Senate.

“We keep talking about money all the time and how much we spend, but we have to make sure we’re getting a quality education out of it first,” says Krebs.

Out of all the educations bills introduced this legislative session, the one that has received the most attention is known as the casino lockbox.

“The lockbox is really important,” says Gov. Hogan.

The lockbox ensures that casino money is added to education spending, instead of replacing it. It’s supported by Governor Hogan who wants to use some of the casino money for school safety. The lockbox could pass as legislation or a Constitutional Amendment. But Baltimore City Delegate Maggie McIntosh feels it will pass in some form.

“This keeps the promise that I think our voters and our constituents believe was made when we passed gamming in Maryland and that was the money would be to enhance public education instead of help pay for current formulas,” says McIntosh.

“We’re hoping that we’re going to get both of those done, we need the accountability and we need the lockbox bill and we need the funding for school safety,” says Gov. Hogan.

The legislative session ends April 9th at midnight.

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