What Gov. Hogan’s Education Announcement Is Trying to Distract You From

Hint: Think $2.9 billion in annual school underfunding on his watch.


Photo from Governor’s Office.

On Monday morning, Gov. Hogan held a positively Trumpian press conference, attacking school systems in jurisdictions that didn’t vote for him (Baltimore City and Prince George’s County in particular), bizarrely attempting to relitigate old fights (introducing a bill called the Protect Our Students Act, an attempt to cozy up further to Betsy DeVos by supplanting last year’s Protect Our Schools Act), and trumpeted a focus on accountability, proclaiming that “when it comes to the problems in our local school systems, it is not a funding issue.”


Regardless of the governor’s political communications tactics, we know the truth: this is a funding issue. According to an independent two-year study commissioned by the Maryland State Department of Education (which is governed by the governor’s own appointees), Maryland public schools are annually underfunded by $2.9 billion dollars. That’s right: on average, every school in Maryland has $2 million less than it needs.

In what must have been a huge, totally not on purpose at all coincidence, across the street from Gov. Hogan’s press conference, the Kirwan Commission was finalizing its initial recommendations to close that $2.9 billion funding gap.

But Gov. Hogan doesn’t want Marylanders to focus on the massive funding deficit that happened under his watch and the work of the Kirwan Commission to end it. And he certainly has shown no interest in addressing and closing that funding gap himself.

Among the other things Gov. Hogan doesn’t want to talk about:

  1. The teacher to student ratio is increasing, meaning larger class sizes and less individualized instruction.
  2. In the last decade, the number of school counselors has dropped by 1.8%, the number of school librarians and media specialists has dropped by 3.8%, and the number of school support staff has dropped by 6.9%. The state has added just 385 teachers despite gaining 40,500 students, or one new teacher for every 105 new students.
  3. Maryland teachers make 84 cents on the dollar compared to peers in similar fields with similar levels of education. And far too many support staff don’t make a living wage and must work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
  4. Maryland spends 5% less in high-poverty schools than in wealthier ones, baking inequity into the system and creating opportunity gaps that result in achievement gaps.
  5. The two systems Gov. Hogan spent the most time in his press conference castigating, Baltimore City and Prince George’s, are the two that are most underfunded by the state, according to the independent report mentioned above, at $677 million in annual state underfunding (Prince George’s) and $386 million in annual state underfunding (Baltimore).

Why Gov. Hogan Wants to Change the Subject

Most Marylanders simply disagree with Gov. Hogan when it comes to public education. According to a November poll:

● Marylanders ranked education and schools as their highest priority issue for the next governor and legislature to focus on, with at least double the support of any other issue like taxes, jobs, or transportation.

● 72% of Marylanders said they favor “fill[ing] the multi-billion dollar funding gap that public schools in Maryland are currently facing.” Only 21% oppose it.

● 50% of Marylanders believe that the state is spending too little on education; just 10% think it is spending too much.

Gov. Hogan has shown no interest in actually addressing the funding gap that independent analysts and everyday Marylanders know challenge their schools. He’d much rather create a smoke and mirrors show to change the conversation, casting blame on others to deflect attention from his stubborn disinterest in fixing the chronic underfunding of Maryland schools.

It’s unfortunate that this ploy involves trying to convince Marylanders that they have, in Hogan’s words, a “crisis of confidence” in public schools, undercutting the work of educators and students and playing into the DeVos-style privatization policies that Hogan loyally champions.

Across the state, Maryland educators and public education supporters are organizing to keep the focus on the Kirwan Commission and the need to address the shameful underfunding of our schools. We’ll keep the focus there, no matter what PR stunt Gov. Hogan thinks of next.