ACLU and NAACP: Kirwan Isn’t Enough

Two organizations currently suing the State of Maryland over education funding have indicated they believe the ambitious plan falls short of amounts needed to end achievement and opportunity disparities in Maryland schools.

The decade-long, widely-hailed Kirwan Commission plan for education funding has not sated the concerns of two well-known advocacy groups. The ACLU of Maryland and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund stated this week they will continue their lawsuit against the State of Maryland over school funding.

Among their central concerns is whether the new funding obligations placed onto the state’s poorer jurisdictions is affordably through local means.

From coverage on the WAMU radio website:

The current proposal by Maryland’s Commission on Educational Excellence, also known as the Kirwan Commission, requires school districts with a high concentration of students of color and poverty to spend more on education over the next decade. Those districts are Prince George’s County, Caroline County and Baltimore City. Prince George’s County is being asked to pay approximately $400 million more a year over that time period.

“We are very concerned about the substantial increase,” Kimberly Humphrey, public policy counsel with the ACLU of Maryland told reporters Tuesday during a press conference. “And whether or not that can be met by the jurisdictions.”

Ajmel Quereshi, a lawyer with the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, said the current proposal doesn’t address the adequacy gap in funding until 2030.

More background on the Bradford lawsuit is available on the ACLU of Maryland website:

The Bradford lawsuit, based on a claim under Marylandʼs constitution, is still open and remains under the authority of the stateʼs Circuit Court. It was filed in 1994 by the ACLU against the state of Maryland on behalf of school children and their parents/guardians in Baltimore City. Baltimore City schools had received over $2 billion in increased state funding from the Bradford consent decree and subsequent “Thornton” education funding formula in 2002. However, since the recession in 2008, Maryland stopped adjusting the Thornton formula for inflation leading to millions lost funds for districts like Baltimore City. Maryland school districts are still waiting for an updated funding formula from the “Kirwan Commission”.

See Conduit Street coverage of this week’s Commission meeting, with links to all the summary documents used at the “catch up” meeting.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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