NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 3, 2006

In 2005, the Governor's Commission on Quality Education in Maryland submitted a broad range of recommendations designed to improve education in the state, but a number of those recommendations are extremely troubling, says Kirk Johnson of the Heritage Foundation.

The questionable recommendations include:

  • Forcing Maryland's educational system to focus solely on educating the public rather than increasing the number of broader social services.
  • Increasing bureaucracy for early childhood education and/or child care providers.
  • Forcing the state to focus resources on making sure that every high school graduate has the necessary skills to perform well in business, vocational training or higher education, rather than promote college via public service announcements.

Moreover, the report fails to even mention school vouchers as a way to improve educational prospects of children trapped in failing Maryland schools, says Johnson.

Nevertheless, the report does have a number of positive recommendations, says Johnson:

  • Maryland's charter school law, widely cited as one of the worst in America, should be reformed to allow for more chartering authorities and fewer regulations.
  • Districts should have the flexibility to pay teachers in hard-to-fill specialties, such as math, science, and special education, and teachers should be eligible for merit pay bonuses for high performances.
  • Create a streamlined path to certification to place more good teachers into classrooms, especially in hard-to-fill specialties.
  • Schools should take additional steps to aid students who are not learning the most basic subjects, such as math and reading, and the testing system should focus on value-added testing as a way to identify which students are falling behind.

Moreover, most of these recommendations take the state into the right direction in terms of educational policy and will encourage Maryland to resist the temptation to assign more social services responsibilities to the school, says Johnson.

Source: Kirk A. Johnson, "The Steele Commission Report: A Lost Opportunity to Debate Vouchers In Maryland," Maryland Policy Report, October 2005.

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