by Jonathan Chang ‘17
Governor Larry Hogan has recently pushed for more school choice. He plans to achieve this through increases in funding for private school scholarships and an expansion of charter schools, or publicly funded schools that are independently run.
Hogan plans to increase the private scholarship fund from $5 million to $10 million over the next three years. This would allow more families to opt for private school education for their children since these scholarships offset the cost of private school tuition for lower-income families.
Hogan has also proposed the Public Charter School Act of 2017, which would make charter schools easier to start and run in Maryland. Currently, charter schools must seek authorization from the county school board where they intend to operate. Hogan’s proposed act would create the Maryland Public Charter School Authority, an independent entity that would license charter schools. Furthermore, charter schools approved by this authority would be given “increased autonomy and … be exempted from certain aspects of local laws,” according to a press release from Hogan’s office; yet, the administration has not offered specific details about the authority or what laws charter schools could be exempt from.
The proposed act would also create a new way to fund charter schools. With the current funding mechanism, local boards of education are in charge of disbursing the money for charter schools. The proposed legislation, however, would let the state give funding directly to charter schools.
This recent push has been met with backlash from Democratic state legislators and the Maryland teachers’ union. Opponents of Hogan’s proposal are concerned about the budget, as they fear that Hogan’s proposal could cause cuts to public education in order to offset the costs that would benefit his proposal. Another concern is how much discretion Hogan’s proposed legislation would cause. Critics note how the legislation could lead to abuse and fraud from these charter schools since they are exempt from some local laws and run by an independent entity.
Hogan’s proposals comes at a time when many Republican governors, state legislators, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are making a broad push for school choice