Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced that his administration will work to reduce by half the percentage of students assessed as not ready for kindergarten by the Fall of 2026. The County Executive made the announcement while he and Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Arlotto named the appointees to the Anne Arundel County Joint Commission on the Opportunity Gap. The Joint Commission held its first meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 6:00 pm.
“By the 2026 school year, the last year that I intend to hold this office, Anne Arundel County will reduce by half the percentage of children who enter kindergarten not demonstrating readiness,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “Anne Arundel County is investing like never before in mental health services, nutrition assistance, affordable housing, public safety, and public transportation. And we are doing it in partnership with nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and every agency of county government. We are all in.”
According to the Maryland 2019-2020 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Report, only 46% of Anne Arundel County students are assessed as ready to begin kindergarten. A key metric in closing the opportunity gap, kindergarten readiness scores vary by race and ethnicity in Anne Arundel County – 55% of white students demonstrated readiness in the report, with the number dropping to 34% for African American students and 28% for Hispanic/Latinx students.
The new target came along with the announcement of the appointments to the County’s Joint Commission on the Opportunity Gap, which will hold its first meeting tonight. The meeting, held virtually from 6-8 pm, can be viewed by members of the public who register here.
“Many of our students arrive at school already finding themselves in the gap,” Superintendent of Schools George Arlotto said. “We must continue to work on approaches inside our school system that help close gaps. I greatly appreciate the County Executive’s recognition of additional issues outside of our control that contribute to gaps and his willingness to bring County resources to bear to help better prepare our early learners to be successful in school.”
The Commission includes 15 appointed members – six appointed by the County Executive, six appointed by the Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and three appointed by the Commission once it is seated. The County Executive and Superintendent’s appointees are listed below:
- Karen Murphy, Anne Arundel County Office of Personnel (County Executive)
- Conor Curran, Anne Arundel Community College student (County Executive)
- Thornell Jones, Anne Arundel County NAACP (County Executive)
- Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort, First Presbyterian Church – Annapolis (County Executive)
- Monica Lindsey, Connecting the Dots (County Executive)
- Tatiana Klein, Marshall and Hope Corporation – Allen Apartments Project (County Executive)
- Indu Bodala, Glen Burnie High School student (Superintendent)
- Patricia Saynuk, AACPS Coordinator of Early Childhood Education and School Readiness (Superintendent)
- Stephanie Jones, AACPS Pupil Personnel Worker (Superintendent)
- Peggy Cruz, Department of Health school nurse (Superintendent)
- Richard Rogers, Principal, Walter S. Mills-Parole Elementary School (Superintendent)
- Dr. Julie Ann Halick, AACPS Citizen Advisory Committee (Superintendent)
The commission is composed of members representing the County, school system and community, and is the result of a collaborative effort to meet the first priority recommendation in the Joint Initiative to Eliminate the Opportunity. The commission will ensure accountability to the Kindergarten readiness goal outlined by the County Executive and assist in implementing strategic initiatives aimed at eliminating the opportunity gap.
“I want to thank all of the appointees for committing their time, experience, and knowledge to addressing the opportunity gap in our county,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “The impacts of structural and systemic racism begin affecting children at birth, and result in inequitable outcomes for our students inside and outside of our schools.”
In addition to the appointed seats, the commission will include the following eight non-voting ex officio members:
- Tameka Smith, a representative from the County Executive’s Office
- Monique H. Jackson, AACPS Deputy Superintendent for Student and School Support
- Pete Hill, Anne Arundel County Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Dr. Maisha Gillins, Executive Director, AACPS Office of Equity and Accelerated Student Achievement
- Dr. Deidre Grim, Program Manager, Health Equity and Racial Justice, Anne Arundel County Department of Health
- Catherine Hollerbach, Chief of Public Services and Branch Management, Anne Arundel County Public Libraries
- Cassandra Moore, Director of Enrollment Development and Admissions, Anne Arundel Community College
- Capt. Ryan Frashure, Commander, Community Relations Division, Anne Arundel County Police Department
For more information on the Joint Commission and to observe meetings, visit www.aacounty.org/jcog.