With the increasing focus on issues in our state’s school systems, Governor Larry Hogan has decided to establish new positions in the Maryland educational system in order to improve accountability for the problems that continue to worsen.
In the past semester of this school year, more parents in Prince George’s County and Baltimore County have filed complaints against the conditions in their school systems. Schools in Prince George’s County are being accused of altered grades, while schools in Baltimore County are lacking heating and air-conditioning systems. One educational and one physical, these problems are the few of many that Hogan hopes to address.
The main position he hopes to create would be an “investigator general”, who would have the power to issue subpoenas and pass judgement on ethical issues in the county. According to Hogan, this job will promote accountability in the county and reduce corruption.
Along with this new position, Hogan has expressed his intention to submit a slew of other educational bills to the General Assembly, including one that would provide emergency funding to Baltimore schools to repair the heating and air conditioning systems. As the we get deeper into the winter season, Baltimore has seen the closing of more of its schools, especially on days of extreme cold.
Hogan also plans on bringing up the old issue of school accountability plans. Back in March of last year, the Maryland legislature approved a bill that changed the school accountability plans, despite objections from both the State Board of Education and Governor Hogan.
Supported by the state teachers union, the bill created an accountability rating system for schools and forbid the use of state school board vouchers and charters in struggling schools. The bill also increased the influence of “student achievement” on a school’s accountability rating. Student achievement is defined by academic indicators including standardized testing scores, graduation rates, student growth, and other factors. Before, this category constituted 55% of the score. With the passing of this bill, this category now constitutes 65% of the score.
Hogan had discouraged the legislature from passing the bill, even using his veto power in an attempt to stop the passage of the bill. However, the bill still passed, and Hogan has cited its increased influence as one of the reasons behind the increasing issues in our school system.
Maryland officials are mixed on Hogan’s new course of action. The Director of Legislative Affairs for the Maryland State Education Association has already expressed opposition to Hogan’s plans. “The governor should stop attacking our public schools and start rolling up his sleeves with the rest of the state’s leaders to reverse this shameful underfunding and make sure the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations become law,” he told the Washington Post.
However, other local officials have expressed interest, as they believe it can help solve pressing issues in their counties. Prince George’s school board member Edward Burroughs said, “To have an [investigator general] with the ability to subpoena documents, the ability to compel people to testify and to refer individuals that have done unethical things to law enforcement is an important thing.”
Written by Isabelle Zhou and Olivia Marquis
Photo courtesy of Baltimore Sun
Published by PR Department