School Funding

Since legislators passed the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act (also known as the Thornton Plan) in 2002, Maryland has provided historic levels of aid to its public schools—allowing all 24 of its school systems to raise achievement levels for all groups of students and helping the state’s education system become one of the best in the nation.

To continue this success, we need to stand up for our students by fully funding Thornton and the Geographic Cost of Education Index. As educators, we know that there is a direct connection between adequate funding for our schools and student achievement.

Gov. Hogan's proposed $144 million in cuts to school funding for FY16 challenge the continued success of our schools, which are at the foundation of what makes Maryland attractive to businesses and families. These cuts are proposed to reoccur and compound to nearly $600 million in cuts over the next four years, forcing students and schools to do more with less. To find out how Gov. Hogan's cuts affect your local schools and students, visit While on the site, you can email your representatives in Annapolis and urge them to restore Gov. Hogan's cuts.

"Larry Hogan campaigned on the need to change Maryland, but his budget shortchanges Maryland's students and schools," said MSEA President Betty Weller. "Rather than meeting growing challenges, Gov. Hogan’s budget will lead to overcrowded classrooms, inadequate technology, and cuts to instructional materials, programs, and positions. This is not a 'no-layoffs' budget; these cuts will mean fewer teachers and fewer support staff in our schools. We stand ready to work with Gov. Hogan and the General Assembly to protect the funding in the budget and reverse these harmful budget cuts."

Other funding priorities

We support the state keeping its promise to educators by making both the full actuarial required pension contribution and supplemental payments. In the capital budget, MSEA supports expanded school construction funding to address the unmet needs for building and improving safe, modern facilities across the state. We also oppose efforts to water down the 2012 maintenance of effort improvements that protect the delicate partnership between the state and local governments to fund our schools.

It's also time to reassess the adequacy and equity of how we fund our schools. Although the Thornton plan has become a national model for school financing, it's now 13 years old. It's time to review and establish the investment necessary to fund the programs and student population of today, not a decade ago.

MSEA supports legislation to create the Thornton 2 Commission to ensure that there is adequate funding across the state. The commission would study education funding, the recruitment and retention of educators, appropriate facilities, and student achievement to understand the many factors and mandates that have made an impact on education since the passage of Thornton in 2002, including the current reform issues—Common Core State Standards, evaluations, and testing—that require additional costs to implement effectively.

School funding: the results

In Maryland, the investment in our students continues to pay great dividends. Thanks to the commitment of elected officials and the hard work of educators, we’ve seen improvements in student achievement and our public school system that are the envy of the rest of the country. These accomplishments include:

  • For years, Maryland's public schools have been ranked among the best in the country by Education Week, the nation’s top education newspaper. Following an unprecedented five years in a row as the #1 school system in America, Maryland’s schools were ranked #3 in 2015. 
  • Maryland led the country in the growth in student achievement between 1992 and 2011, according to a 2012 study by the Harvard School of Government.
  • Maryland led the nation in eighth-grade reading improvement on NAEP from 2003 to 2013.
  • Maryland ranked #2 in fourth-grade reading improvement and #4 in fourth-grade math improvement on NAEP from 2003 to 2013.
  • Thirty percent of Maryland students in the class of 2013 scored 3 or higher on at least one AP exam—ranking Maryland #1 in AP performance for the eighth year in a row. 
  • In 2013, 65,450 students took and passed an AP exam, a 56.2% increase over 2006.
  • In 2014, Maryland’s high school graduation rate reached 86%, 4 percentage points better than the 82% rate in 2010. Meanwhile, the dropout rate fell from 12% to 8%.
  • Graduation rates gains have occured across minority groups, growing by 4.5 points for African American students and by nearly 6 points for Hispanic students. Graduation rates have also increased for students receiving special services and for those who receive free- or reduced price meals.
  • In 2013, 83% of kindergartners entered the year fully ready for school, compared to just 60% in 2005. 

Thornton funding has also made numerous programs possible, including:

  • Adoption of full-day kindergarten for all students and pre-kindergarten for all economically disadvantaged four-year-old children.
  • Developed ten Career Clusters and a total of 48 Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs to allow students to explore a wide range of career and/or academic options in order to stimulate their planning for their own future after graduating from high school.
  • Expansion of principal training to enhance building-level leadership and student health programs including Maryland Meals For Achievement, School-Based Health Centers, and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support.
  • Development of Longitudinal Data System tracks student participation and performance throughout the student’s education and work career.
  • Expansion of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers to 44 target programs operating in 13 jurisdictions, providing services to children and their families who attend high poverty schools or schools identified for improvement.

Click here to learn more about the Thornton Plan.

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Educator Mobilization Leads to Momentum on School Funding Restoration

Starting with a radio advertising campaign and online petition drive in January, and continuing with the launch of in early February, the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) and its members have led a session-long campaign to protect the investment in Maryland schools and restore the education cuts proposed by Gov. Hogan.

Educators Urge Passage of House Budget Plan

The House Appropriations Committee’s plan will restore over 90% of these cuts to our schools—ensuring continued progress for our students—while protecting retirement security for educators. We urge the General Assembly to reject Gov. Hogan’s plan and support this better budget for Maryland.

Gov. Hogan’s State of the State

As if cutting Maryland’s schools by $144 million next year isn’t enough, Gov. Hogan has now decided to support policies that would further harm our world-class public education system.

MSEA Statement on Gov. Hogan's Budget

Larry Hogan campaigned on the need to change Maryland, but his budget shortchanges Maryland's students and schools. Gov. Hogan’s education cuts threaten the progress of our top-notch public schools, which are at the heart of what makes Maryland attractive to businesses and families. Gov. Hogan's $143 million in immediate school funding cuts—which are proposed to reoccur and compound to nearly $600 million in cuts over the next four years—would force students and schools to do more with less.

MSEA Launches School Funding Radio Campaign and Petition Drive

MSEA is launching a radio campaign and petition drive calling on the new governor and General Assembly to continue the strong support and forward-thinking investments in public education that have helped make Maryland’s schools and students so successful.