Maryland General Assembly Passes the Protect Our Schools Act
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
This morning, the Maryland Senate passed the Protect Our Schools Act—legislation to strengthen Maryland’s school accountability system and prevent Betsy DeVos-style school privatization—by a veto-proof 32-15 margin. The House of Delegates then moved tonight to send the bill to the governor's desk with a veto-proof 87-50 vote.
"The backbone of the success of our state is the education system. This legislation will ensure a transparent accountability system for every public school," said House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel-District 30A). "Over the last two years, under the current Administration, we have dropped 10% in our national ranking for public schools. It is imperative that we pass this legislation to ensure that schools are educating the whole child and not just teaching to test after test."
The legislation—which is supported by educators, parents, civil rights groups, and leading education scholars—also protects Maryland schools from privatization efforts coming from the federal government. However, Gov. Hogan is threatening to veto the bill because it will stop his efforts with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to force communities to give up control of their schools and hand over operations to private, for-profit operators.
“I urge Gov. Hogan not to veto the protect Our Schools Act that will protect Maryland from President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who want to privatize our schools," said Senator Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery-District 14), the Senate bill sponsor. "Marylanders don't want to see school privatization come to our state, and they want Gov. Hogan to protect our students and educators. This legislation does just that."
“We have an obligation to our children to try something new and change the status quo,” said Gerald Stansbury, president of the Maryland State Conference—NAACP, in a letter to senators. “It’s time to lead the nation in closing the opportunity gaps that lead to inequality in schools. The Protect Our Schools Act does exactly that.”
The legislation passed over the governor’s objections as his talking points were fact-checked on the Senate and House floor. His claim that the bill would cost the state $250 million is falsely exaggerated from a cautionary Department of Legislative Services point that ESSA is vague on certain requirements. With no federal regulations in place—due to a repeal of the Obama administration’s rules—the claim is no longer credible. The Attorney General’s office has told legislators that nothing in the Protect Our Schools Act is out of compliance with federal law.
“We know Gov. Hogan is teaming up with President Trump to drive a school privatization agenda, but it doesn’t mean he has to use his misleading communications tactics, too,” said Sean Johnson, legislative affairs director for the Maryland State Education Association. “Educators applaud legislators for putting Gov. Hogan’s lies aside to strengthen school accountability and prevent privatization. Bottom line: This is a huge win for students and equal opportunity, and a huge loss for the national school privatization allies of our out-of-touch governor.”
Some of the many stakeholders supporting the Protect Our Schools Act include:
NAACP—Maryland State Conference
Parent Advocacy Consortium
CASA de Maryland
Disability Rights Maryland
Maryland State Education Association
ACLU of Maryland
Baltimore Teachers Union
Advocates for Children and Youth
School Social Workers in Maryland
League of Women Voters
Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance
Maryland Coalition for Community Schools
Maryland Out of School Time Network