Policy Leaders Discuss Education Equity at #MACoCon

At the 2021 MACo Winter Conference, an expert panel discussed education equity and how COVID-19 exacerbated gaps in the experiences of Maryland’s students. 

At the 2021 MACo Winter Conference session, “Education Equity: Confronting the COVID Gap,” leaders in education discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic revealed new inequities and exacerbated existing ones for Maryland’s students.

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice, who also leads MACo’s Education Subcommittee and serves on the National Association of Counties Board of Directors, and is Vice-Chair for the Human Services and Education Steering Committee.

Rice was joined in conversation with Charles County School Board Member Michael Lukas, Dorchester County Superintendent Dave Bromwell, and Senior Education Advocate of the ACLU of Maryland, Frank Patinella.

Panelists discussed lessons learned from pandemic schooling, in particular, unequal access to technology and reliable internet — and how to close the digital gap for Maryland’s students. Several panelists shared stories of how their county opened hot spots for internet at public places like parks and firehouses, for example, so families could participate in school activities and kids could complete schoolwork. 

Also top-of-mind was the “COVID Gap” in learning, which counties are addressing with increased tutoring, special learning hours, and continued learning programs during summer. Panelists also highlighted the ongoing challenges of hiring and retaining school staff, including teachers. 

A general theme throughout the discussion and panel were best practices to pursue more equitable learning for all of Maryland’s youth, regardless of their county of learning, a point Patinella drove home several times, noting that inequalities existed before the pandemic.

The session was held on December 9, 2021, at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Maryland.

More about MACo’s Winter Conference: