Governor Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced plans to encourage more charter schools by sidestepping local districts’ authority to authorize and fund them. Currently, charters must be approved by local school districts and adhere to rules set by the state Department of Education.
According to The Baltimore Sun,
It is the second time in three years Hogan has sought to establish more charter schools in a state where their operators say laws make it tough to open and thrive.
Hogan said the initiative would “increase the choices available to Maryland families” and charged that the current system of approving charters stifles innovation.
“Maryland’s current public charter school law is restrictive, vague, and has consistently rendered the state unable to compete for millions of dollars in federal charter school grants,” Hogan said in a statement.
The broad strokes of Hogan’s plan prompted rebuke from the Maryland teachers’ union. Sean Johnson, the union’s spokesman, said the proposal would “undermine the strong protections against fraud, waste, and abuse” in the current charter school law.
Current law gives local school districts broad authority over charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. It also requires educators to be covered by union contracts, a provision that charter operators say hinders the ability to be nimble in hiring and firing staff.
Hogan’s proposal this year would create an alternative way to approve charter schools, putting them under direct control of an independent board that would also directly funnel state money to the schools.
The administration declined to provide specific information about how the system would work, but said the board could exempt schools from union membership, class size limits, text book rules and curriculum choices.
In 2015, Governor Hogan introduced legislation that sought to make several fundamental changes to charter school funding and administration in Maryland, but the bill was heavily amended by the General Assembly.