A Call for Disinvestment in Maryland’s Public Schools
As if cutting Maryland’s schools by $144 million next year isn’t enough, Gov. Hogan has now decided to support policies that would further harm our world-class public education system. In state after state, we have seen voucher schemes and the lowering of standards for the opening and operating of charter schools fail to be effective, and instead create millions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse—exactly what Gov. Hogan campaigned against. These are simply policies that students and their families cannot afford.
Rhetoric vs. Reality
Governor Hogan: “Education is our top priority…I believe that every child in Maryland deserves a world-class education.”
Reality: Gov. Hogan’s budget would cut $144 million from public schools next year—amounting to over $3,600 less per classroom and more than $100,000 less per school—and by almost $600 million over the next four years. His education cuts will be felt in every classroom across Maryland, as students and educators are asked to meet growing demands in overcrowded classrooms with inadequate technology and outdated instructional materials. County impacts are available at dontshortchangemaryland.com.
Governor Hogan: “Let’s encourage more public charter schools to open and operate in Maryland.”
Reality: Without high standards, charter schools can become magnets for fraud, financial mismanagement, and negative outcomes for students. A May 2014 report from The Center for Popular Democracy found more than $100 million in fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer dollars helping to fund charter schools in 15 states. A recent year-long Detroit Free Press investigation found that Michigan spends nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money annually on charter schools “often with little accountability, transparency, or academic oversight.” A recent independent poll in Michigan found that 73% of residents favor a moratorium on opening any new charter schools. ("Poll: Michigan should place moratorium on new charter schools pending review," Detroit Free Press, August 31, 2014).
While MSEA supports charter schools and our current strong law, research has found that charters are not a panacea. According to the last reputable analysis of the data by MSDE in 2011, charters in Maryland were found to perform no better than traditional public schools. Most perform as well or worse. Additionally, Stanford’s wide-ranging, multi-state CREDO study found in 2013 that most charter schools do not produce better academic results when compared with traditional public schools.
Governor Hogan: “Our administration will also push for the enactment of the ‘Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers; legislation, also known as ‘BOAST.’”
Reality: According to the state’s 2012 BOAST Interim Study Report, growth in similar voucher programs in other states indicate that $50 million at minimum would be redirected annually from the General Fund to private schools. At the end of the day, that takes much-needed investment in better technology, lower class sizes, and improved instructional materials out of our public classrooms.
Public schools are required by law to comply with strict educational standards and accountability for all students—standards private schools do not share. Funding schools outside of the state’s accountability system threatens the quality of education our children receive, and has had poor results in other states. For example, Wisconsin taxpayers have paid $139 million over the last ten years to private schools that were since barred from the state’s voucher system for failing to meet requirements related to finances, accreditation, student safety, and auditing.