Supporters of the proposed $4 billion plan to reform education in the state gathered near the Maryland State House in Annapolis on Presidents Day. Hundreds of people attended the rally including teachers, students and education advocates. The “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” a plan that, if adopted, would add more teachers to classes, boost their pay with a proposed $60,000 starting salary, and expand pre-k programming.
After the rally, lawmakers settled for a joint committee hearing. William Brit Kirwan, another supporter of the plan, and the Chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland also attended the hearing. He attempted to influence lawmakers to support the initiative on that grounds that in order for Maryland to improve education, Maryland needed this plan as an investment in the future of state education.
Kirwan explained to lawmakers that if the plan were to be implemented, there would be a better student-teacher ratio, more teaching and supplemental training opportunities would become available, and a pathway for aspiring teachers would be created.
During the hearing many lawmakers questioned how they would fund the plan. Sen. Paul Pinsky, the head of the Senate Education and Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, told lawmakers, “We’re going to hold the funding issue to when the Appropriations and Budget and Tax and other committees address that issue.”
Lawmakers brought up additional ideas that would allow Maryland to fund this plan. Proposals included changing the state’s tax structure, allowing sports betting, and taxing some internet transactions. After many ideas were presented, several county executives supported the plan as an investment in the future of Maryland education.
When questioned about the proposed plan, Mary Ann Fardleman, an art teacher at Stephen Decatur High School, gave her opinion. She stated, “Physically teachers can handle the capacity for our class sizes now, but if we had more teachers, we could have those smaller class sizes then we could provide more individualized attention for students and as a result they would be more successful.” Fardleman also stated, “I am all for more teachers and increased salary, but where ultimately is that money going to come from and how will we be able to afford it?”
Principal Thomas Sites also gave his idea on the plan, “The Blueprint for Maryland’s future has many great ideas on improving Maryland’s education system but overall, the state wouldn’t be able to afford it.” Maryland’s new plan for the future of education in the state is predominantly supported by the community, however the question of how to fund it remains.