Governor Larry Hogan today announced new administration initiatives to continue expanding and improving education opportunities for students in Maryland, which include the Public Charter School Act of 2017 and increased funding to encourage innovation and creativity in the classroom. The governor’s fiscal year 2018 operating budget, which was introduced earlier this month, includes a $6.4 billion investment in K-12 education, fully funding the aid formulas and providing record funding for the third straight year.
“I believe that every child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” said Governor Hogan. “The proposals we are announcing today ensure that we will continue to increase the choices available to Maryland families and provide high-quality education for all Maryland children.”
Building on the Hogan administration’s record of innovation and support for non-traditional ideas to improve access to quality education, the governor today introduced the Public Charter School Act of 2017, legislation that would create the Maryland Public Charter School Authority, an independent public charter school authorizer. Public charter schools authorized by this new entity would have increased autonomy and would be exempted from certain aspects of local laws.
Unlike other states with highly effective and expansive public charter school programs, Maryland’s program is missing key hallmarks, most notably an independent charter school authorizer and autonomy in regards to budget and staffing. Maryland’s current public charter school law is restrictive, vague, and has consistently rendered the state unable to compete for millions of dollars in federal charter school grants.
This legislation also creates a new funding mechanism for public charter schools, where state investments would be delivered directly to the schools. Currently, allocations are disbursed by local boards of education, which have funded public charter schools at far lesser rates than traditional schools.
Governor Hogan also announced the Maryland Education Innovation Fund, a new program that will encourage greater innovation and creativity in Maryland classrooms. This $1 million allocation will be used to provide planning grants and will prioritize applied learning with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, blended learning, competency-based programs, and economic efficiencies in delivery of educational services.
“In order for our children to succeed in a 21st century workforce, Maryland must continue to promote creative, forward-thinking ways to address the achievement gap in our schools,” said the governor.
Earlier this month, Governor Hogan announced additional investments to open six new Pathways in Technology Early College (P-TECH) high schools throughout the state, as well as funding to support students currently enrolled at existing P-TECH schools. P-TECH, co-developed by IBM, is an innovative, nationally recognized education model that blends high school, college, and work experience into one innovative program where graduates obtain a two-year associate degree in a STEM career field at no additional cost. P-TECH Dunbar and P-TECH Carver, both located in Baltimore City, opened for the 2016-17 school year.