2018 Legislative PRIORITIES

 

 State House

 

 

Maryland General Assembly 2018

 

  • Full and Adequate Funding 
  • Kirwan/Funding Bills 
  • School Construction and Maintenance 
  • Strong School Climate 
  • Public Dollars for Public Schools 

 

Ensure Full and Adequate Funding of Public Education

 

As of FY15, there was a $1.6 billion statewide "adequacy gap" - that is the amount by which the current formula was underfunded (now nearly four years ago). Inadequate education funding is an ongoing and urgent concern. The current formula is problematic due to factors including outdated wealth measures, dramatic shifts in the student population and student needs, and flat funding over the years. We are committed to working for more resources, ensuring a thorough review of the funding formula that centers equity, and restoring the Governor's funding cuts to education programs outside of the formula. 

 

Support Kirwan/ Funding Bills

 

The "Kirwan" Commission has extended its timeline for updating the statewide education funding formula. Over the spring and summer, the Commission will split into subgroups to define and cost out initial policy priorities which include: (1) Early Childhood Education; (2) High Quality and Diverse Teachers and Leaders; (3) Rigorous College and Career Pathways; (4) More Support for High-needs Students; and (5) Governance and Accountability. The ACLU will continue to urge policymakers to put resources where they are most needed. We will work toward implementation of initial Kirwan recommendations in 2018 (after& summer school for high-poverty schools and pre-k, among others) and track bills meant to protect additional dollars that flow to the Education Trust Fund. 

 

Support Programs for Public School Construction and Building Repairs

 

No child should attend schools without adequate heating, cooling, fire alarm systems, science labs, etc. School districts across the state have over $20 billion in unmet school construction needs. While Baltimore's new 21st Century Schools Program is estimated to reconstruct 23-28 Baltimore school buildings, there are more than 100 city school buildings in serious disrepair that are not covered by the program. The ACLU-MD will work to: Establish an emergency fund for school facilities so that school districts can access funding quickly Support a statewide assessment of all Maryland school buildings as recommended by the Knott Commission to ensure that the state has accurate data on school building conditions Support the expansion of the City Schools' 21st Century Schools Program. 

 

Support Strong School Climate

 

We support legislation that seeks to create positive school climate and equity in schools and classrooms. Ineffective discipline practices negatively impact thousands of students across the state causing them to lose critical instruction time, fall behind, and have a greater likelihood of dropping out. In an effort to improve and transform school environments, we support practices that address inappropriate behavior and teach problem-solving skills such as restorative practices. We will support legislation that pushes for better training and greater specialized supports for students and school staff. 

 

Oppose Public Funds for Private & Religious Schools

 

In 2017, the Governor added millions to the budget appropriation for the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Act or "BOOST" voucher program for students to attend private schools. While the BOOST program was billed as a way to expand opportunity to students from low-income families, 73% of the scholarships are going to students who were already enrolled in private schools. We oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to fund private schools that do not meet state accountability standards and often discriminate against vulnerable populations, including students with disabilities and LGBTQ students and teachers.