Only 50 days remain in the 2020 Maryland General Assembly Session, and on Monday, Feb. 17, lawmakers heard hours of testimony on one of the most anticipated bills: SB 1000/HB 1300 — known as The Blueprint for Maryland's Future, the bill that would implement the proposals from the Kirwin Commission.
Officially known as the "Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education" but generally referred to as the Kirwin Commission in honor of its chairman William E. “Brit” Kirwan, the commission convened in 2016 with a goal to develop recommendations for how Maryland education is funded, operated and how it prepares students for college or the workforce. The commission offered its recommendations in 2019.
Maryland's Catholic Bishops have supported the commission's recommendations and in January, Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the Maryland Catholic Conference, jointly penned with Baltimore City Public School's CEO Sonja Santelises an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun calling on Maryland lawmakers to pass the bill.
"It is clear to all that the most pressing issue to be debated this session is the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, better known as the Kirwan Commission," they wrote in the article. "These reforms offer the promise of equitable and excellent educational opportunities for every student, regardless of their income or neighborhood." Read their full article HERE.
Just some of the changes the bill would bring to Maryland's education system include:
- Expand prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds and to 3-year-olds from low-income families
- Allow more Catholic and other nonpublic schools to participate as sites for prekindergarten
- Alter the requirements to become a teacher and raise teacher salaries
- Expand full-day kindergarten
- Establish a career counseling program for middle and high school students, and college and career readiness standards
- Provide additional support to special education students and schools that serve low-income families
- Ensure education dollars are properly utilized
The state would phase in any changes over 10 years. If fully implemented, the Blueprint is expected to cost the state an additional $4 billion annually.
The Conference offered testimony in support of the bill on Feb. 17, but suggested numerous amendments. To read our testimony CLICK HERE.