Education is the surest ladder of opportunity, and it will be my top priority as Governor. It provides children with the tools they need to succeed in life and to realize their full potential. Maryland deserves a world class education system, from pre-k through higher education, that will improve lives, broaden opportunity, and drive economic growth. Under Governor Hogan, we have moved in the opposite direction. Maryland is not “Open for Business” – it is slamming the doors of opportunity and upward mobility. We must reverse this downward slide, and that is what I will do as Governor.
On Governor Hogan’s watch, Maryland’s education rankings have declined and Maryland students’ scores fall in the middle of the pack on key metrics. These poor results are predictable given the Governor’s failure to properly invest in education. His first budget did not fund fully the Geographical Cost of Education Index, which allocates money to account for higher education costs in certain jurisdictions. He has maintained the inflationary index cap, limiting funds to education, despite a growing economy and increased state tax revenue. He also has diverted public funds from public schools to vouchers. He has even failed to increase education funding to match the rate of growth of the state’s General Fund.
My priorities as Governor will be radically different. I will create a program for universal access to pre-k, because educational inequality cements itself before children set foot in the classroom. I will devote resources to programs that assist disadvantaged students, like community schools and after-school programs. I will work to develop a rigorous curriculum that is benchmarked against international standards and ends our reliance on high-stakes testing. I will create a funding system that treats and compensates Maryland’s educators like the professionals that they are, and provide them with the working conditions and support they need to do their jobs. Finally, I will ensure that our high schools graduate students who are college or career ready, and I will align our vocational and apprenticeship programs with the jobs that are available in the state.
There is a price tag for these initiatives, but we have the resources we need to properly fund education. We must have the wisdom and courage to invest in the short-term to reap the substantial benefits of a good education. Failing to invest in education will impose far greater costs in terms of stunted lives, stifled opportunity, and a crippled state economy. We must begin by undoing the damage of Governor Hogan’s chronic underfunding of education. We need to immediately lift the inflationary cap, and our increases in funding for K-12 education must at least match the projected growth of the state’s General Fund budget. My first legislative package will include proposals to implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, some of which will inevitably involve additional funding.
To prepare Maryland’s students to succeed in the 21st century, we must build a world class education system. With my experience, I know how to achieve that goal.