Kirwan Commission, Take Two

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education reconvened today in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission resumed its work after taking a brief hiatus during the 2018 legislative session.

The Commission was originally set to complete its work in time for the 2018 session of the General Assembly, but last October asked for an extension when it became clear the deadline was not realistic. Prior to breaking for the 2018 legislative session, the Commission released a preliminary report detailing its preliminary recommendations.

The preliminary report begins with a “Call to Action,” which stresses that, despite a significant increase in State and local funding over the past 15 years, Maryland students still perform in the middle of the pack within the United States, which is in the middle of the pack compared to the rest of the world. In order to compete with the best school systems, the report calls for Maryland to make a sustained, statewide commitment to systematic change.

House Bill 1415 of 2018

House Bill 1415 – Education, Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, legislation aimed at establishing initiatives to implement several of the Commission’s preliminary recommendations, passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. MACo testified in support of the bill, as it would implement policy recommendations that signal a new commitment to education on behalf of the State and support a growth trajectory of Maryland’s education system.

Working Groups On Preliminary Recommendations

In order to cost out all of the recommendations outlined in the Commission’s Preliminary Report, each of four working groups has been assigned to one of the policy areas identified in the report (the fifth area will be considered by the full Commission). The working groups will need to come to a consensus on the design, implementation plan, and cost for that policy area and its elements.

Working Group #1 – Early Childhood Education: Expands high-quality pre-K to all four-year-olds and all low-income three-year-olds, and assesses all children before they come to kindergarten to identify those who need supports to be ready to learn.

Working Group #2 – High Quality Teachers & LeadersHigher paid, better educated, more rigorously trained teachers will work as professionals in schools that offer real careers in teaching and are organized to ensure that teachers have the time they need to work together in teams to continuously improve their practice and improve the performance of students. All schools will have highly trained principals who are prepared to create fully professional work environments for teachers.

Working Group #3 – College and Career Readiness Pathways: World-class instructional system that includes a career and college ready standard set to a global standard that most students are expected to meet by the end of grade 10 and all students are expected to meet by the end of high school. Access to Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways that lead directly into aligned postsecondary technical degrees as well as industry credentials (CTE Subgroup).

Working Group #4 – More Resources for At-risk Students: System that Ensures at-risk Students are successful that supports these students and their families as soon as they arrive at school with both academic supports and extensive case management to address social, physical, mental and family needs to enable success at school.

The elements in the fifth policy area, Governance and Accountability, will be considered by the full Commission since it applies to all of the other policy areas.

Once the working groups have completed their work, they will present their recommendations and cost estimates to the full Commission. The chair will work with staff and consultants to develop a draft cost estimate based on the recommendations of the working groups (as considered by the full Commission) for the full Commission’s consideration.

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

Materials from today’s meeting are available on the General Assembly website, and the meetings viewable online by searching the House Appropriations Committee room on the dates of each meeting.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Draft Preliminary Report

MACo Testimony on HB 1415

Previous Conduit Street Coverage