by Erica Kuhlmann ’22
Maryland’s House of Delegates has just approved a historic, controversial, and expensive education reform bill to overhaul and revitalize public schools throughout the state. The bill would require $3.8 billion of funding annually, costing taxpayers $32 billion over 10 years. The legislation was backed by democrats, who make up the majority of the house of delegates, and passed 96-to-41.
The bill would set into action a 10-year plan to expand pre-kindergarten programs to more students, support stricter hiring standards and higher salaries for teachers, create more vocational training programs in high schools, and provide more resources for schools with high populations of poor students. The plan includes a seven-member “Accountability and Implementation Board” to oversee implementation of the bill.
Almost 20 amendments were proposed by Republican house members to block or limit the bill. It is controversial because of its high cost, with no clear way to provide funding for it thus far. Many Republicans have suggested amendments to put an end to the bill after several years if adequate results are not shown. Others believe the bill is necessary in a state where, according to The Baltimore Sun, over 60 percent of graduating high school seniors can’t read at a 10th-grade level or pass an Algebra I test. “What we’re trying to do here is change the trajectory of this state. All of us will win when we invest in education,” said Montgomery County Democrat Gabe Acevero.
The plan and its funding source will be presented to Governor Hogan by March 25, leaving time for the House to override a veto if necessary by the time the 2020 General Assembly adjourns. The bill will likely be vetoed by Hogan based on his adversity towards it in the past, but will probably still pass. The Maryland General Assembly can override a veto with a two-thirds supermajority vote in both houses, which will be achieved if the number of delegates supporting the legislation remains the same as it is in the existing vote.