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Lack of Government Transparency Regarding Maryland's Blueprint is Cause for Concern

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The Blueprint for Maryland's Future is a historic investment, which will have a huge impact on children in Maryland. The Blueprint provides needed money for some of our most pressing educational issues, such as improving access to full-day pre-kindergarten, increasing teacher pay, targeting funds towards schools with high levels of poverty, and expanding support for college and career readiness. Although this multi-billion dollar education spending bill was a bold and necessary policy move, from an outside perspective, it can seem that we’ve seen little change so far.

First, it’s important to explain the desperate need for this piece of legislation. In the initial planning stages, a commission was created to review our current education funding formulas and make policy recommendations to improve the quality of education for our Maryland students. To say that the findings were alarming would be a deep understatement. The commission determined that Maryland is considered a regressive state for school funding and our racial and income achievement gaps are worse than ever imagined. In addition, less than half of Maryland’s students graduating from a public high school meet the state standards for career and college readiness. Considering Maryland students were found to perform at or below the median of all 50 states in math and reading, it's clear that the state's public education system has failed many students.

I’ve lived in Maryland my entire life and grew up attending public schools. I’ve witnessed firsthand the policy failures that have resulted in these deep achievement gaps. I was a student in the international baccalaureate program in high school in an extremely diverse school. There were an alarmingly low number of students of color in my class, only two of whom were black men. Beyond the lack of diversity, I consistently noticed the disparity in treatment between students of color and white students. Where students of color were questioned regularly in the hallways by administrators, white students were able to walk around freely. My peers noticed this too, and on multiple occasions I even overheard them talking about not needing hall passes because they were white.

The need for further resources for students in Maryland and specific efforts towards the achievement gap couldn’t be more pressing. The legislation that the blueprint outlined includes specific efforts to address the achievement gap and low academic achievement in the state of Maryland public schools. However, many educators and school employees are left feeling lost about the progress of the blueprint funding. According to an employee at a high-needs school in Howard County, no one on the ground knows about the blueprint or what it’s supposed to be doing. She explained that it feels like there is no plan and no one communicating. To many of us, it feels like there was a huge push to get the legislation passed, but little information and insight are currently available about the progress of the blueprint.

Maryland House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke believes the lack of current information regarding the implementation of the blueprint is related to Governor Larry Hogan vetoing this legislation in 2020. Luedtke explained that the Blueprint for Maryland's Future Accountability & Implementation Board (AIB) was created in the legislation in order to ensure the blueprint is being implemented the way it was intended to be. Governor Larry Hogan’s veto caused a delay in implementing the AIB and a further delay in funding the AIB. The delay in funding the AIB is one of the reasons that the public hasn’t yet had sufficient information regarding the progress of the blueprint.

It is one of the prime duties of our government to provide transparent information to the public in a timely manner. The lack of accessible information on the blueprint highlights a crucial error from our government. In order for our students to receive the education they deserve, our teachers and society need to be able to access the information on Maryland’s historic education spending bill. So, for the update on the implementation of the blueprint? It’s unclear. But one thing is clear: we need our government to be held accountable for the lack of transparency in order to allow us to be effective advocates for our students. They deserve better.

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