Investing in our children’s education: Maryland’s future prosperity depends on the quality of our public education system, and an economic crisis cannot be used as an excuse to shortchange our children. The Kirwan Commission developed extensive recommendations to make Maryland’s public schools competitive with the best systems in the United States and around the world, and although the legislature wisely committed to fund that vision, the current executive vetoed it. The challenges of COVID-19 will make ensuring that our schools are as strong as possible more difficult, but also more critical as we look to rebuild. Our students will have greater academic, social, and emotional needs than ever, and our teachers will need more resources to support them. Now is the time to follow through on that PreK-12th grade investment and to build on it by ensuring college and quality post-secondary career training are accessible and affordable for all Marylanders.
We must enact, fund, and implement the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations: the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. The Blueprint represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fundamentally transform our schools. Some of these important interventions include:
- Increased access to pre-kindergarten;
- Stronger teacher training and higher compensation;
- More resources for at-risk students;
- More funding for schools serving students living in poverty;
- Stronger college and career readiness training; and
- Increase transparency in school governance and accountability.
The pandemic has also clearly shown the severity of the digital divide for Maryland students. Closing this gap has important implications not only for education but also for healthcare and commerce. Maryland needs to connect rural and urban communities with affordable broadband.
Alongside the investment in PreK-12 education, we must continue to invest in public higher education – especially the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and community colleges – as a key driver of economic development and an engine of social mobility. Keeping post-secondary education affordable and accessible is vital to help all Marylanders – whether they are new high school graduates or working adults with families of their own – to invest in themselves and seek better opportunities.