Kirwan Commission Discusses Equity in Education, Maryland’s ESSA Draft Plan

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its most recent meeting today in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission focused on addressing the impact of poverty on public education, resources for at-risk students, community schools, and Maryland’s ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) draft plan.

Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, gave a presentation on education reform in Massachusetts. The goal of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA) was to create adequacy, equity, and stability in the state’s school finance system. According to Reville, “The business of providing schools with adequate resources to educate children is not a local responsibility. It’s a state system, and thus the state is responsible for providing resources to adequately educate children.” Accordingly, MERA doubled state funding for K–12 education from $1.3 billion in 1993 to $2.6 billion in 2000.

The Commission also heard testimony from Marc Tucker, President and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Mr. Tucker gave a brief summary of school funding in Maryland and how it compares to school funding in top performing states and countries. Mr. Tucker also discussed per-pupil funding formulas, funding formulas for at-risk students, and equity in education funding.

The Maryland Department of Education (MSDE) presented its draft Consolidated State Plan for ESSA, a federal law passed in December 2015 that governs K-12 public education policy. According to MSDE, the purpose of ESSA “is to provide all students the opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.” MSDE began its work on the draft plan in February 2016 and will submit its final plan to the U.S. Department of Education by September 18, 2017. Click here to view MSDE’s draft Consolidated State Plan.

The Commission also heard testimony from advocates for community schools, publicly funded schools that serve as both educational institutions and a center of community life.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission. MACo is entitled to two representatives on the Commission, under the legislation.

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair, and Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Vice Chair, represent MACo on the Commission.

The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 30, 2017; 9:30 am-5:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Click here to view today’s meeting materials.

For more information, contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo.