Education Advocate
Aug. 2, 2017
"Kirwan" Commission Update
The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, or  "Kirwan" Commission , is tasked with recommending improvements to the state funding formula utilizing recommendations from Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates, Inc. (APA), and other education stakeholders. 

With their report due in December 2017, the Commission is now beginning to grapple with key parts of the formula such as the amount allocated for "at-risk" groups of children. ACLU continues to work to ensure that any formula revisions will provide the resources that all of Maryland's children need to succeed.
Commission Focuses on Strategies, Resources for "At-Risk" Students
The July 26 meeting focused on the impact of poverty, and comparisons to other states and countries with higher achievement than Maryland. Equity has been an ongoing issue, as Maryland has one of the highest median incomes in the nation, but school spending is only the 16th highest. Paul Reville from Harvard University explained the Massachusetts school funding formula, and suggested addressing concentrated poverty through personalized learning, integrated health and social services, and out-of-school learning opportunities. A ccess the meeting agenda and presentations here.

Marc Tucker and Betsy Brown Ruzzi of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) made several recommendations including:  
  • Increasing the special education weight, which is significantly lower than other states; 
  • Adding additional funds for school districts with concentrated poverty;
  • Changing the way local wealth is calculated to make tax effort a more recognized factor.  
At the request of MD4CS, a Maryland coalition in support of community schools of which the ACLU is a member, a  panel of community schools advocates from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Prince George's County made a compelling argument for community schools as a strategy to address concentrated poverty. The ACLU and MD4CS agree with a number of the recommendations presented, especially around the need for sustained funding. It is imperative that the Commission and General Assembly prioritize supports for students facing the greatest challenges. 
The next Kirwan Commission meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Aug. 30, and can be live streamed here.
Public Hearings Set
The Maryland Education Coalition, co-chaired by the ACLU, advocated for public hearings so that parents, students, school staff, and community members can share their views with Commission members. We are happy to report that the Kirwan Commission will hold four regional public hearings. The hearings are tentatively scheduled for the dates below, and subject to change. Each hearing will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

Sept. 14: Eastern Shore 
Sept. 28: Western Maryland 

TBD: Central/Southern Maryland 
Oct. 12: Greater Baltimore Area  
Locations to be determined. STAY TUNED!
Bebe Verdery, Director  
Frank Patinella, Senior Education Advocate  
Kimberly Humphrey, Esq., Legislative/Education Advocate 
Justin Nalley, Education Policy Analyst