Reform Sasscer Staff:
Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday wants lawmakers to ensure accountability for local school systems before appropriating the billions in education funding called for by the Kirwan commission.
“My concern is that the recommendations of the Commission will lead to massive increases in expenditures without any assurance that our kids will receive a better education,” Hogan wrote in a letter Thursday to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch.
Last week, Democratic leaders backed a 10-year package that would require $1 billion in state money over the next years. To implement all of the commission’s recommendations, it would cost $3.8 billion each year for the next 10 years.
The recommendations include expanded full-day pre-K, increased teacher salaries, more special education funding and support for struggling schools. Lawmakers said they would appoint a commission to figure out how to fund those proposals, but Hogan called for assurances accountability would be on the front end.
“The Commission’s purported aim was to adopt strategies that have been proven in a top-performing state, such as Massachusetts,” Hogan wrote. “Yet, the Commission failed to include any of the strong accountability strategies used in that state to achieve that success.”
In September, Hogan used an executive order to form an Office of Education Accountability as an independent watchdog. That followed a grade-fixing scandal in Prince George’s County and the perjury guilty plea by former Baltimore County Superintendent S. Dallas Dance. Dance failed to disclose tens of thousands in consulting income, including from a company that then won a no-bid contract with the county.
Department of Budget and Management Secretary David Brinkley expressed concerns in his own letter to top lawmakers. He said that a budget analysis by his office foresees a shortfall of $21 billion in all from fiscal year 2021 through 2025 if legislation mirroring the recommendations is passed, as well as other legislation increasing the minimum wage and pay to state employees.
“To put it another way, Maryland households will have to pay an additional $7,000 per family in state and local taxes over the next five years to cover this shortfall,” Brinkley wrote.
Both letters blasted Thornton commission as having been a waste of time after it failed to address problems which continues today. Below are the letters written to senior state officials in the Maryland legislature expressing reservations due to ongoing public corruption within the Maryland school systems.
In Prince George’s County, there is a major need to scrutinize the role of Dr. Charlene Duke – (President of PG county community college) in the whole saga in Prince George’s County and the millions of dollars she is handling on behalf of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). Dr. Dukes has had a long history with Thornton and the Unions involved in major willful violations of law in Maryland.
Several citizens in the community expressed strong support for accountability with one concerned citizen Tonya Wingfield stating the following: “The school budget increases every year yet we continue to lay-off school-based personnel while increasing central office staff and pay them six figures while they leave a trail of scandals. It’s time for accountability,” Tonya stated on Facebook. She further added that, ” There have been several audits that showed mismanagement in transportation funds, poor procurement practices, the secret issuance of bonuses, waste of books in warehouses due to inadequate inventory management and the increase in central office staff every time there’s a scandal. PGCPS funding has steadily increased. If PGCPS would start making the Master Plan and local School Improvement Plans available to the public everyone would see more than enough money is going to our schools. This marching for money is like crying hungry with a ham in your mouth.” Tonya stated on social media.