What’s Not Happening Right Now Because of the Blueprint Veto

Expanding teacher diversity, community schools, and more stopped by Hogan veto

Photo © Stephen Cherry

We expect that the governor’s veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is just a setback and not a permanent defeat. MSEA is working strategically with partners in the legislature and other supporting organizations to achieve an override to enact the legislation as soon as possible. Not only is the Blueprint an outstanding plan to reverse the effects of underfunding Maryland’s education system for the past decade, but it is a path to lifting the state economy and all Marylanders up from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Blueprint is a sweeping education reform needed immediately, and legislators who supported it built in contingencies for an economic downturn,” said MSEA President Cheryl Bost. “Recent weeks have magnified existing inequities — whether of technology access, food security, or otherwise — that our students face every day and that challenge their ability to succeed in school. With the Blueprint we can come together to resolve the longstanding inequity in education that has underfunded, underpaid and understaffed schools, and didn’t support struggling learners and students living in poverty.”

The Blueprint programs will hire more educators and pay them a professional salary, expand pre-k access to all, expand career and technical education, better deliver programs and services for low-income families, English language learners, and special education students, and provide wraparound services at more community schools.

The Blueprint lays out a way to deliver a world-class education to every student in every neighborhood, providing the equity that has been denied to so many communities. Trauma that adversely and disproportionately affects students in poverty is acknowledged and directly addressed through additional training. More than ever, we know we need to do better by our neglected and underserved populations. Our kids can’t wait yet another school year to reverse institutional racism, trauma, food insecurity, and the related missed educational opportunities.

The Blueprint meets the ambitious and obtainable academic goals and fulfills our community’s shared responsibilities to create world-class schools. The Blueprint is largely dedicated to delivering equity and fulfilling responsibility to underserved “at-promise” students. That commitment necessarily requires supporting the educators who will make the difference as well. Loans, grants, and pay increases for current and aspiring teachers, especially from populations underrepresented in teaching, are among the programs that are designed to hire and retain more of the best qualified educators.

Meanwhile, because of Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Blueprint, all of the promise is at risk, and even with a successful veto override there are several start dates and times that will be delayed. In the following policy areas, plans and funding were scheduled to start July 1, in time for the next school year, but will now be put on hold because of the governor’s veto:

Teacher Diversity, Qualifications

Higher education institutions that serve and train teachers from populations that are historically underrepresented in the profession were going to be newly eligible for matching state grants of up to $500,000 to expand their programs and improve the diversity of the teacher pipeline.

The State Board of Education would have been tasked to develop regulations to add annual trauma-informed training for certified teachers. It would train teachers to recognize students who experience trauma or violence and to make the appropriate referrals to behavioral healthcare providers.

At-Promise Students

Six new Patty Centers for family support and parenting skill training were to be funded in FY21, with a funding level of $330,000 each. (After FY21 three centers are to be funded per year.) In these centers, families would have access to education and guidance to better support their children and function as a family.

Funding for more community school coordinators was included in FY21. Since 2019, more than 200 community coordinators have been deployed at schools where more than 80% of students live in poverty. Funding for a coordinator ($257,100/coordinator) precedes funding for the wraparound services that a community school offers. The coordinator, who may be hired as a school employee or non-school staff, makes a needs assessment to address the poverty, food insecurity, poor healthcare, family dynamics, and trauma that students experience outside school and which impede students’ ability to succeed in the classroom. Based on budget and legislative actions for FY21, the coordinator positions were to be provided to schools with 75% of students in poverty. These coordinators would eventually be expanded to schools with more than 55% poverty will qualify to become community schools.

Early Childhood

Nine new Judy Centers serving pre-school populations and families were to be funded per year, $275,000 per center starting this coming school year. The centers help ensure children and parents get the support they need to be ready before entering school.

The Child Care Accreditation Support Fund, representing $1 million to support childcare provider applicants and program improvements, was also slated for the coming year. The Maryland Child Care Credential Program has $4 million for childcare provider credentials, achievement bonuses, and training reimbursement. The Child Care Career and Professional Development Fund contains $5 million to pay for textbooks, fees, tuition, and bonuses.

We look forward to getting all of these important Blueprint programs up and running, and fully funded, as soon as possible in the new year if not sooner.

Accountability and Oversight

Before the new funding formula was to begin, every local board of education was to complete a Blueprint implementation plan with stakeholders. These conversations would engage educators, business leaders, higher education institutions, and parents to craft a plan that works best for them to get the most out of the new programs and funds. Those plans would be done with the oversight of a new Accountability and Implementation Board that was to be appointed by Governor Hogan later this year. The veto stops these critical conversations and plans from getting started and moves us further away from a shared goal of greater transparency and accountability in education policy and funding.

Take Action

Urge your legislators to override Governor Hogan’s misguided veto during their next legislative session. Click here to make sure your voice is heard!