Sen. Cassilly: Kirwan Bill Gets Accountability Wrong

Senator Robert Cassilly

As the 2021 Legislative Session nears, the veto override of Kirwan is at the top of mind for many legislators. Maryland Matters today published a guest commentary written by Harford County Senator Robert “Bob” Cassilly (R – District 34) where he voices concerns about the bill’s proposed Accountability and Implementation Board.

Maryland Matters published an article written by Senator Bob Cassilly concerning the Kirwan Blueprint legislation currently being considered by the Maryland General Assembly.

In the commentary, Senator Cassilly, a Republican member of the Maryland Senate representing Harford County’s District 34, conveys his apprehension of Kirwan’s Accountability and Implementation Board and the “budget-busting price tag” of implementing the legislation.

From his Maryland Matters commentary piece:

It’s a complicated mess of a bill. In simplest terms, the procedural centerpiece of Kirwan is a new panel of super bureaucrats operating under the deceptive title of the Accountability and Implementation Board, or AIB. Its six members are supposedly chosen by the governor but the governor must select members only from a list of candidates presented him by leaders of the General Assembly. So, the AIB is in truth a creature owned and operated by the majority party in the legislature.

The board’s extreme power allows it to serve as more than just a quasi-legislative body dictating educational policies. It will also serve as a quasi-executive body, with the power to pronounce its own evaluation of county and state obedience to the AIB dictates, and as a quasi-judicial body, with the power to punish those counties the AIB believes are insufficiently compliant with AIB’s dictates.

The fullest measure of AIB’s power is achieved through its unprecedented ability to unilaterally withhold state tax dollars to force county compliance.

Senator Cassilly has consistently been an outspoken critic of the Kirwan legislation, previously penning a commentary in the Baltimore Sun’s Harford County focused Aegis section, where he raised the arguable disconnect between spending and outcomes in education policy:

For example, one of the major goals of the Kirwan Commission is reducing the number of young teachers leaving the profession. The Commission’s primary response to that concern is increased statewide spending on teachers’ salaries. While I do think that teacher salaries should be increased, an NBC poll of teachers in Maryland and the region found that only 13% of teachers cited low salary as their reason for leaving teaching. Nearly 70% cited stress, lack of support and lack of student discipline. Increased spending will not reverse the policies and laws that have eroded teacher discretion, removed discipline from schools and made some schools an environment in which no self-respecting adult wants to work.

The discussion about the Kirwan legislation and the potential veto will only gather more attention in the days ahead, with the Legislative Session scheduled to begin on January 13.

Useful Links:

HB 1300 – Blueprint for Maryland’s Future – Implementation

Previous Conduit Street coverage: Governor Vetoes Kirwan, Tax, Fiscal Bills in Silent Session Cap-off

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for the latest.

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