Committee: House Ways and Means
The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 733. The Catholic Conference represents the public policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, including the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
This bill authorizes a local school system or an existing public school to form a school-community partnership with community-based organizations or agencies for planning and implementing a community school strategy. A community school is intended to help students and families overcome barriers preventing children from learning and succeeding in life by having an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and parental and community engagement.
Promotion of access to quality education is of utmost importance to the Catholic Church. (See: Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 192). Moreover, with the social challenges so many children face today, they need an environment where their education and success are a focal point. Often children are left without the before or after-school support that they need to foster continued learning and social development and the community school model seeks to address those needs. Additionally, the Church believes the parents are the first and foremost educators of their children and, in the vein that the community school model encourages greater parental involvement in their children’s education, it should be emphatically supported by our state.
An effective community school model can foster significantly better educational outcomes, particularly in marginalized areas of our state, where inequities in income level can often act as a barrier to a quality education. It is for this reason that the Catholic Conference urges this committee to issue a favorable report for House Bill 733.