Dr. Kirwan Discusses His Commission’s Work on WYPR

Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, Chair of the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, yesterday joined WYPR’s On the Record to discuss the future of Maryland’s public education system.

The Commission is charged with reviewing and assessing current education financing formulas and accountability measures. 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.

When asked about the delay, Dr. Kirwan explained that the initial timeline was simply impractical. “I don’t think anybody fully appreciates the magnitude of this challenge. We are being asked to invent and develop a funding formula for an entirely new system of education, that will be at the level of the best-performing systems in the world. We’re supposed to do that in six months? Give me a break!”

Dr. Kirwan expects the Commission to release its final recommendations in time for the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

In the meantime, the Commission’s four working groups will continue working to develop a consensus on the design, implementation plan, and cost for each of the preliminary recommendations. 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.

Dr. Kirwan cautioned that simply spending more money on Maryland’s public education system is unlikely to improve student outcomes. “It’s not just how much you spend, it’s what you spend it on. That is part and parcel to the recommendations we’re making,” Kirwan said.

Greater spending must come with greater accountability, according to Chair Kirwan. “There is inadequate accountability, and that’s what we’re trying to address,” he said.

Chair Kirwan said he looks forward to working with Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly on legislation to implement the Commission’s recommendations. “I give Governor Hogan and the Legislature a lot of credit for appointing this commission because they recognize that Maryland’s future and the future well-being of our citizens depend upon a high-quality education, that’s the future of our economy.”

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 advocates for adequate, fair, and reasonable funding for all of Maryland’s students, and urges State policymakers to sustain a robust level of public education and school construction funding.

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WYPR Coverage

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

MACo’s Summer Conference will include a session on education funding and accountability, and how to best ensure that Maryland students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. The session, “Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0,” is scheduled for 10:15 am – 11:15 am on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: