In a Tuesday morning press conference, Maryland General Assembly leadership laid out plans to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Innovations and Excellence in Education through legislation entitled The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Senate Bill 1030/House Bill 1413).
“This is the most important bill of the entire legislative session,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (District 27 – Prince George’s, Charles, and Calvert). Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee Chairman Paul Pinsky followed: “This blueprint is going to be the envy of the other forty-nine states.”
The principles of The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future include:
- Instruction and skills set to international standards that will enable Maryland students to be successful in the 21st century economy and productive citizens;
- Access to educational experiences and opportunities beginning in early childhood to enable every Maryland student to reach their full promise and potential and graduate from high school ready for college and a rewarding career; and
- Student performance at among the world’s best overall, and elimination of opportunity and achievement gaps so that every student can reach their full potential.
Additionally the legislation will require a sustained and coordinated effort in five main policy areas as recommended by the Commission (also known as the Kirwan Commission after its Chair, Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan). These areas include:
- Early support and interventions for young children and their families, including full–day prekindergarten that is free for low–income 3– and 4–year olds and expanding services and supports for 0–2 year–olds and their families;
- High quality and diverse teachers and school leaders, including elevating the teaching profession comparable to other fields with the same education and with comparable compensation, establishing a career ladder so that excellent teachers remain in the classroom, and increasing the rigor of teacher preparation programs and State certification standards;
- A college and career readiness (CCR) standard set at the level required to virtually guarantee success in the first year of a community college program, with Maryland schools focused on getting most students to CCR by the end of 10th grade, and nearly all by the end of high school; providing supports for students who are not on track for CCR; and providing post–CCR pathways for students who achieve CCR, including early college programs that allow a student to earn an associate’s degree at no cost while in high school and Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways that lead to an industry–recognized credential;
- Additional resources, supports, and services for students who need them to achieve the CCR standard, including English learners, students with disabilities, and students from low–income families, with particular attention on students in schools with high concentrations of poverty; and
- A strong accountability system with the authority to hold all entities accountable for implementing The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future effectively to ensure that all students are successful.
Dr. Kirwan, the Chairman Emeritus of the University System of Maryland and former President of the University of Maryland, College Park, stated that: “The legislation is the most important thing I’ve ever worked on in my life.” He followed: “Maryland will have a school system as strong as any in the world.”
As of March 5th, thirty-five days remain in the 2019 legislative session. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.