Maryland Matters Highlights Counties’ Suggestions to Improve Blueprint Implementation

A new Maryland Matters article highlights MACo’s letter to state leadership outlining county government concerns about Blueprint implementation and offering suggestions for improvement.

Ahead of the 2024 legislative session, county leaders and the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) sent a letter to Governor Wes Moore, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones outlining ongoing concerns with implementation and offering a series of suggestions to improve the historical law and make the Blueprint work for all Marylanders.

County governments are vital partners in implementing Maryland’s landmark education reform law, The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (“The Blueprint”). As funders and local leaders, counties are uniquely positioned to help guide implementation and shape Maryland’s public education system. As such, they have experienced some universal challenges in the first few years of educational reform.

Maryland Matters reported on MACo’s letter and talked with Michael Sanderson, the association’s executive director, and Brianna January, associate policy director, about what’s on the minds of county leaders as Maryland moves deeper into the Blueprint.

From the article:

‘The Blueprint applies a one-size-fits-all approach to education investment and implementation that does not account for our state’s diverse local government capacities, processes, and abilities,’ according to the letter signed by MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D), president of the organization. ‘As we move deeper into implementation, the diverse systems, constraints, and structures counties must work within become more apparent, especially financially.’

Sanderson said in an interview Monday that the goal is not to go back and legislate the Blueprint law but to inform lawmakers and the public of the continuing challenges to funding the Blueprint on a local level.

One proposal, Sanderson said, is for the legislature to provide a more comprehensive cost analysis detailing how much Blueprint funding is mandated in local budgets. In addition, that analysis should take into account fluctuating school enrollments, he said.

It continues:

The Blueprint law states that schools must implement a $10,000 salary increase for teachers who are designated as National Board Certified, and an additional $7,000 salary increase for certified teachers who work in low-performing schools.

MACo proposes those salary figures should be switched: $7,000 for all teachers certified, and an additional $10,000 for certified teachers in low-performing schools.

Brianna January, associate director of policy for MACo, said there still remains ‘a universal concern’ about a requirement for school systems to raise minimum annual teacher salaries to $60,000, which must be done by July 1, 2026, according to the law.

January said county leaders are concerned the salary increase ‘will kind of pinch all the other staff positions into an upward trajection for their starting salaries.’

Learn more about the county letter.

Read the full Maryland Matters article.

At the MACo Winter Conference general session, “Education Reform: The Blueprint for the Blueprint,” county and state leaders in education will examine Blueprint implementation, challenges that remain, and where Maryland is landing as it tries to reach the landmark law’s goals for public education. Speakers include representatives of key partnerships, county officials working closely “on the ground” to implement the education reform law, and other leaders.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: