Kirwan Commission Reconvenes, Focuses on Attracting and Retaining High Quality Teachers

After a brief hiatus in honor of the 2017 Maryland legislative session, the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education met today in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission today focused on high-quality teaching and school leadership development.

Maryland schools are having difficulty retaining experienced teachers during their first few years in the profession. Maryland’s education system may suffer from early career departures of its teachers, depleting the system of needed professional expertise.

The Commission heard testimony from Marc Tucker, President and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who discussed teacher compensation in Maryland. Mr. Tucker noted that starting pay for teachers in top-performing countries is typically at the top of the civil service scale and higher than or equal to beginning engineers, accountants, and registered nurses. However, in Maryland, the difference between the average pay of teachers and engineers is 41%, between teachers and accountants is 21%, and between teachers and registered nurses is 10%.

The Commission acknowledged that recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers is crucial for providing a world-class  K-12 education in Maryland, and seemed amenable to the idea of closing the pay gap between teachers and other similar professions.

The CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises testified on teacher career pathways, a Baltimore City program aimed at rewarding and recognizing teachers and education professionals excelling in their field, both in terms of student outcomes and teacher practices. The program is centered around “Achievement Units (AUs),” which eliminates pay increases based on advanced degrees and instead looks at courses and other professional development activities that correlate to teacher practice and student achievement.

Educators in all content areas and grade levels can earn AUs through the following categories: evaluation, external learning, professional development activities, and professional activities. Dr. Santelises noted that for teachers, the program provides greater opportunities to strengthen their professional practice in order to increase student achievement, chart their own career paths, recognizes and rewards outstanding work, and helps to ensure that every student succeeds. For City Schools as a whole, the program provides the ability to attract and retain excellent educators, the ability to truly engage teachers in leading the transformation of the district, expansion of excellent instruction across the district’s programs and schools, excellent instruction that leads to excellent student achievement, and entrepreneurial opportunities to support unique student needs.

The Commission applauded Dr. Santelises and the teacher career pathways program, which could be part of the Commission’s recommendations for attracting and retaining high-quality teachers in Maryland.

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 is entitled to two representatives on the Commission, under the legislation.

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair, and Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Vice Chair, represent MACo on the Commission.

The Commission’s next meeting will be held on Monday, June 1, 2017; 9:30 am-5:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

For more information, contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo.

Tech Entrepreneur From Baltimore is First Democrat to Enter Md. Governor’s Race

Baltimore nonprofit founder, author and former Obama administration technology adviser Alec Ross on Wednesday became the first in what is expected to be a crowded field of Democrats to enter Maryland’s 2018 gubernatorial race.

As reported by The Washington Post,

The 46-year-old political newcomer declared his candidacy through social media and his campaign website, saying he has the knowledge and experience to prepare the state’s economy for the future.

Courtesy Alec Ross gubernatorial campaign

At least seven other Democrats have said they are considering a 2018 run for governor, including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, former Maryland attorney general Douglas F. Gansler, former NAACP executive director Benjamin Jealous, Baltimore County Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz, state Sen. Richard Madaleno (Montgomery), state Del. Maggie McIntosh (Baltimore) and attorney James Shea.

The winner of the Democratic primary is expected to face Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who has said he will run for reelection.

Ross, a Johns Hopkins fellow who served as a technology-policy adviser to Obama’s first presidential campaign and then as tech czar for the U.S. State Department, wrote “The Industries of the Future,” a 2016 nonfiction book that spent two months on the New York Times’ list of business bestsellers.

He graduated from Northwestern University in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in history before joining Teach for America, which assigned him to a tough middle school in Baltimore. His work there was detailed in a three-part series in The Baltimore Sun.

In 2002, Ross founded a nonprofit group that focused on providing low-income and underserved communities with access to high-speed Internet. The organization has since become a multimillion-dollar corporation.

In his book, Ross predicted that five industries would dominate the global economy of the next several decades. They included robotics, cybersecurity, genomics, data analysis and digital currency.

Read the full article for more information.

Get Involved! Apply Now to Be a Part of NACo’s Presidential Committees

Committee leadership and participation are an integral part of the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) mission. Incoming President-elect Roy Charles Brooks encourages you to get involved. In preparation for his presidency, he and NACo are pleased to begin the appointments process. Applications are due June 2, 2017.

President-elect Roy Charles Brooks

These appointments are for:

  • Policy steering committee chairs and vice chairs and subcommittee chairs and vice chairs
  • Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) and Rural Action Caucus (RAC) chairs, vice chairs and members
  • Standing committee chairs, vice chairs and members
  • Ad hoc committee, task force and advisory board chairs, vice chairs and members
  • At-large NACo board directors

Click here for more information about NACo committees.

To be considered for a presidential appointment to any of the above committees or as an at-large director for the NACo Board of Directors, you MUST complete the application online before June 2, 2017. Appointments will be announced after NACo’s Annual Conference in July.

IMPORTANT:  Steering committee membership is not a part of this application process.

State associations of counties are responsible for nominating policy steering committee members. The online nomination form for policy steering committee membership can be found here.

Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board Briefed on Opioids, Implementation

The Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board held a quarterly meeting on Monday April 24, in Annapolis.

Senator Michael Hough and Delegate Kathleen Dumais shared relevant updates from the 2017 General Assembly session. Hough noted legislation that was amended to avoid mandating Justice Reinvestment funds be spent in a certain way. Dumais discussed bills related to pretrial services that did not pass, but noted grant funding that will be available to local jurisdiction interested in starting a pretrial program.

Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) Executive Director Glenn Fueston spoke about the state’s Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC). The OOCC is a multi-disciplinary, data-based team created by the Governor to help coordinate state and county response to the opioid crisis. It is directed by Talbot County Director of Emergency Services Clay Stamp and operates out of Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). Fueston also briefly updated the Board on the annual report each county must provide on inmates detained in jail awaiting trial. Data included total pretrial detention population, average length of stay, reason for not securing release, primary offense and status of the case.

Webster Ye, Director of Governmental Affairs, and Dr. Barbara Bazron, Deputy Secretary for the Behavioral Health Administration, provided updates from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). Ye discussed bills relating to opioids that were passed during the session. Included was the Prescriber Limits Act, Start Talking Maryland Act, HOPE Act, as well as bills addressing distribution of controlled dangerous substances, telehealth, recovery residences, prior authorizations for opioid disorder treatment, and coverage requirements for behavioral health services. In response to a question about the burdens faced by the state’s medical examiner office, he noted that the DHMH is working on hiring more examiners.

Bazron shared a presentation on BHA’s progress on §8-505 and §8-507 placements. Under the Justice Reinvestment Act, the department is required to make these placements for individuals court ordered to treatment within 21 days. She noted that the department is adapting their process to meet the placement deadline, which goes into effect July 1. Bazron also discussed how as of FY 2018 residential treatment for substance use disorders, including the §8-507 placements, will be partially Medicaid reimbursable through a federal waiver.

Patricia Goins-Johnson presented on the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) progress on implementing Justice Reinvestment noting benchmarks that have been met, challenges that have arisen, and work that remains ongoing. Judge Kathleen Cox, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, and Public Defender Paul DeWolfe updated the Board on a process being piloted to promote efficiency in the review of mandatory minimum sentence modifications for eligible persons serving time for drug offenses.

Before concluding the meeting it was briefly mentioned that the Justice Reinvestment Local Government Commission has been fully appointed but has not yet met.

The 25 member board, chaired by Judge Daniel M. Long, is charged with overseeing the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Act (SB 1005), the law passed during the 2016 outlining comprehensive state criminal justice reform. Duties include collecting and analyzing data, creating performance measures, and making recommendations for reinvestment of savings. The board meets quarterly.

For more information about the JRCC visit the GOCCP website.

Previous coverage on Conduit Street:

Justice Reinvestment Oversight Board Begins Work


U.S. News Ranks Maryland High Schools #1 in Nation

Maryland high schools are the best in the nation, with four ranking among the top 150 in the country, according to a new list from U.S. News & World Report.

The list, published Tuesday morning, ranks more than 2,600 high schools across the country based on state high school proficiency tests, disadvantaged students’ performance on those tests, graduation rate, and then Advanced Placement test data.

As reported in the Baltimore Business Journal,

On a state-by-state level, U.S. News said Maryland schools performed best by their measures, with 5.9 percent of the public schools achieving “Gold Medal” status and 21.6 percent achieving “Silver Medal” status.

Massachusetts actually had the highest percentage of “Gold Medal” schools, with 6.2 percent of its public schools reaching that status, but ended up fifth overall among the states because it had relatively few “Silver Medal” high schools.

After Maryland, rounding out the top five were Florida, California, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

When broken down by individual schools, the state only placed four inside the top 150, all from Montgomery County: Winston Churchill High School (75), Thomas S. Wootton High School (106), Poolesville High (108) and Walter Johnson High School (149).

The highest-ranked high school in Greater Baltimore is Marriotts Ridge High School in Howard County, which came in at 226th on the list. The Baltimore School for the Arts, coming in at 1,276th, was highest among Baltimore City schools.

Nationally, five of the top seven schools are in the Arizona, while Texas landed three schools among the top 10. All five of those Arizona schools are part of the BASIS Schools charter network, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

At the bottom, South Dakota did not allow U.S. News to view Advanced Placement test results, so it’s listed as No. 51. It places behind Nebraska, Mississippi, Wyoming, Iowa and New Mexico, each of which had fewer than 4 percent of schools achieve either “Gold Medal” or “Silver Medal” status.

Read the full article for more information.

Maryland Gets High Scores for Public Health Preparedness

State bests national average in survey ranking preparedness for public health emergencies.

Maryland scored a 7.5 — above the national average of 6.8 — on the 2017 National Health Security Preparedness Index, a nationwide report designed to “assess preparedness for ‘community health emergencies’.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

On a 10-point scale, Maryland rates 7.5 for its efforts to prepare for and respond to such emergencies, according to the 2017 National Health Security Preparedness Index.

The index is compiled annually by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to assess preparedness for “community health emergencies.”

The foundation looks at more than 100 measures, such as monitoring food and water safety, flu vaccination rates, and numbers of paramedics and hospitals. The measures are grouped into six categories that are given a ranking on the 10-point scale.

Maryland came in better than the national average of 6.8.

Maryland also outranked most of its neighbors: West Virginia (6.7), the District of Columbia (7.0), Pennsylvania (7.0) and Delaware (7.2). Virginia also scored 7.5.

Vermont scored highest at 7.8, while Alaska ranked as least-prepared with a score of 5.9.

Maryland scored best for the ability to mobilize resources to deal with a health emergency, where the state earned a 9.3.

For more information read The Baltimore Sun and the 2017 National Health Security Preparedness Index.

Fun Fact: Do You Know Why St. Michaels in Talbot County is Branded “the Town that Fooled the British”?

Question: Do you know why St. Michaels in Talbot County is branded “the town that fooled the British”?

Talbot sealSt. Michaels is branded “the town that fooled the British” because avoided destruction by British invasion on August 10, 1813, when residents—forewarned of an imminent attack—turned off all their lights and attached lanterns to the masts of ships and the tops of trees, causing cannons to overshoot the town. The only house to be struck became known as the “Cannonball House.”


Do you have a fun fact to share about your county? If so, please send it to Kaley Schultze to be featured in MACo’s weekly Fun Fact on Conduit Street.

Baltimore County School Board to Start Search for Interim Superintendent

The Baltimore County school board is planning to begin the search soon for an interim superintendent to replace Dallas Dance, who abruptly announced Tuesday that he will leave his job at the end of June.

According to The Baltimore Sun,

Board President Edward Gilliss said he believes the board must select an interim superintendent to serve for at least a year because there isn’t enough time to find a permanent replacement.

“The two choices are either an internal candidate or someone from the outside,” he said. “Our objective is to identify a person to serve for a 12-month period.”

Dance, who is in his fifth year as superintendent in the sprawling suburban county, is stepping aside after the first year of a four year contract.

He said he does not have another job but is considering offers. He said he was leaving for family reasons, and because working 18-hour days had become taxing.

Board member Marisol Johnson said the board is planning to have an emergency meeting in about a week to begin the search process.

She believes the board should look at internal candidates before beginning a national search. She said there are administrators inside the system who are qualified to do the job. She declined to identify them.

Dance has two top lieutenants. Verletta White, the chief academic officer for the 112,000 student school system, and Kevin Smith, the chief administrative operations officer, who oversees the district’s $1.4 billion budget.

Dance’s resignation gives the board just 10 weeks to find a replacement — an uncommonly short period, according to John Woolums, director of governmental relations for the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.

Maryland school systems, particularly those in urban areas, tend to take more time to choose a superintendent, Woolums said, because the jobs are so big.

“So it is quite often the case that an interim is selected to allow the board to engage in a more thorough process,” Woolums said. “Given the short time line, it is predictable that they would look in-house.”

The school system faces the likelihood of substantial change in 2018, when the board goes from an entirely appointed body to one that is mostly elected. For that reason, some board members suggested an interim might be brought in to serve two years.

Under a new state law, county voters will elect seven school board members in November 2018, and four members will be appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan the following month.

Board members will have to decide whether they want to hire a new superintendent just months before a turnover of the majority of the board.

It’s uncommon for a superintendent to leave in the first year of a multiyear contract, and to announce the departure so late in a school year. But it does happen.

The superintendent in Washington County, Woolums noted, announced in January that he would be leaving in March. The school board chose a top administrator as an interim and then named him the permanent replacement.

Read the full article for more information.

Anne Arundel Board Redistricts Annapolis Schools

Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted Wednesday night to change school boundaries for nearly 400 students on the Annapolis Peninsula, shifting students to reduce crowding and bring students closer to their neighborhood schools.

According to The Capital Gazette,

County leaders and some parents have advocated for reducing crowding at Tyler Heights Elementary School in past years. The school has 13 portable classrooms and sends its pre-kindergarten students to Georgetown East Elementary School.

Under the plan, Tyler Heights would go from 133 percent over state-rated capacity to 99.5 percent capacity, according to the redistricting report.

Monarch Academy in Annapolis will draw students from the Tyler Heights area when it opens in the fall. Tyler Heights Elementary will also get a construction upgrade, which would expand school space.

The redistricting plan moves students from Tyler Heights Elementary to Eastport and Georgetown East elementary schools, as well as shift graduates of Walter S. Mills-Parole Elementary School from Wiley H. Bates Middle School to Annapolis Middle School. Hillsmere Elementary is the only elementary school in the Annapolis feeder system whose boundaries will remain unchanged.

Some students living north of the Severn River would move from Annapolis Elementary School to Arnold Elementary School in the 2019-20 school year. And some students would move from Germantown Elementary School to Annapolis Elementary School in that school year as well.

Fourth-grade students affected by the plan have the option of remaining at their school the next school year. Students living in the Mills-Parole Elementary attendance zone and going to school at Bates Middle can also remain next school year.

The proposal to graduate Mills-Parole Elementary students from one middle school to another had raised some concerns among parents because the shift will concentrate minority students in Annapolis Middle. Mills-Parole Elementary has a student body with 59 percent Hispanic students and 36 percent African-American students.

School board president Stacy Korbelak said parents have the option of choosing a middle school because both Annapolis Middle and Bates Middle are magnet schools.

Seven board members voted unanimously to approve the plan. Board member Eric Grannon was absent. And board member Tom Frank resigned earlier in the year.

Read the full article for more information.

Anne Arundel County Council Approves Medical Marijuana Zoning Tweak

Anne Arundel County Council members on Monday night passed legislation tweaking the county’s medical marijuana zoning rules, a change officials said will align the law with the council’s original intentions.

Council Bill 21-17 specifies that medical marijuana dispensaries located north of Route 50 or north of the northeast shore of the South River are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a house or school building. Those restrictions do not apply elsewhere in the county.

According to The Capital Gazette,

The change, which passed unanimously, represents a tightening of the previous law, which banned dispensaries within 1,000 feet of homes and schools only if the business was located both north of Route 50 and east of the South River.

Land affected by the updated restriction includes Annapolis, the Broadneck Peninsula, Crofton, Odenton and all of north county, including Glen Burnie and Pasadena.

The change will not apply to an application for a dispensary on West Street, which could become the county’s first. While the site falls within the new boundary lines, it will not be affected because the application is already in progress.

Administration officials and councilmen alike said the bill’s changes describe the law they thought they had passed when the rules for medical marijuana were first crafted in late 2015.

“We believe (this) is the intent when we discussed this bill originally,” said Bernie Marczyk, a lobbyist for County Executive Steve Schuh.

Councilman Chris Trumbauer, an Annapolis Democrat, voted in favor of the bill because, he said, it “just corrects the code to be what we thought we passed back then, so there are no additional regulations put on the industry.”

“I continue to believe that our code is too restrictive for this new industry, but I’m going to vote yes because I’m honoring the compromise we passed last year,” he said.

Councilman Jerry Walker, a Crofton Republican, said fewer regulations may be warranted if the existing rules prove too difficult for fledgling medical marijuana businesses.

“I think the majority of us would like to see them open, and if we create this system that’s too restrictive, too cumbersome, we may need to look at how we set it up,” he said.

Read the full article for more information.