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.
"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 fourth-grade reading and math improvement on NAEP at the Proficient level from 2003 to 2011; it led the nation in fourth-grade reading on NAEP at the Basic level.
- Maryland led the nation in eighth-grade reading improvement on NAEP at the Basic and Proficient levels from 2003 to 2011.
- For the fourth year in a row, Maryland ranked #1 in AP performance (measured by the percentage of public school students scoring 3 or higher on at least one AP exam).
- Maryland is #1 in the percentage of graduating seniors who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam.
- Since 2001, the percent of students who passed at least one AP exam grew 13 points, to 28% in 2011—the highest passing rate in the nation.
- In 2011, Maryland’s high school graduation rate reached 87%, reaching its highest level in history. This topped regional and national graduation rates.
- In 2011, 83% of kindergartners entered the year fully ready for school, a 34% increase over the last decade.
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.
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 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.
MSEA has released its updated list of endorsed candidates for statewide offices, the Senate, and the House of Delegates for the 2014 elections. MSEA had previously announced its endorsement of Lt. Governor Anthony Brown for governor, Senator Brian Frosh for attorney general, and Comptroller Peter Franchot for re-election.
“Governor O’Malley’s strong record of investing in our students and top-ranked schools continues with the budget he introduced today,” said MSEA President Betty Weller. “In Governor O’Malley’s eight years in office, we’ve seen an incredible investment of more than $45 billion in our public schools—and the results have been outstanding."
“Governor O’Malley’s already strong record of investing in our students and #1 ranked public schools only improves with the forward-looking budget that he proposed today,” said MSEA President Betty Weller.