Op-Ed Urges Kirwan Commission to Consider Race in Education Recommendations

Advocates call on Kirwan Commission to consider policy recommendations informed by race

An opinion piece in The Baltimore Sun advocates for the Kirwan Commission (formally the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Education) to craft policy recommendations that are informed by race. The co-authors of the op-ed, Erika Seth Davies and Laura Gamble, lament that the Commission has failed to address the role of race in educational outcomes, stating,

There is no mention of race in the building blocks — no mention of known racial disparities in educational outcomes; of the negative impact that decades-long, persistent federal, state and local discriminatory policies and modern-day de facto segregation have had on performance outcomes for the U.S. when comparing our educational system to other nations’.

We call on the commission to embrace the role that it can and should play in erasing race-based disparities in educational outcomes and the allocation of resources so that race can no longer be a predictor of student achievement and success. Only then can we truly hope for change in outcomes for all students.

For more information, see the full opinion piece in The Baltimore SunMd. Kirwan Commission must consider race in education recommendations and previous Conduit Street coverage of the Kirwan Commission.

Six Maryland Public Schools Earn State Blue Ribbons

Six Maryland public schools have been selected as 2017-18 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools. All six were selected as an Exemplary High Performing School, one of the U.S. Department of Education’s two categories. The schools are being honored before the Maryland State Board of Education.

According to a press release:

The schools are:

  • West Towson Elementary School, Baltimore County
  • Urbana Elementary School, Frederick County
  • Fallston Middle School, Harford County
  • Waterloo Elementary School, Howard County
  • Bannockburn Elementary School, Montgomery County
  • Luxmanor Elementary School, Montgomery County

“Each one of these schools is laser-focused on student success, and the results speak for themselves,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “Creative teachers work with engaged and dedicated administrators, parents and the community to develop strong learning environments for their students. We will be proud to nominate these schools for National Blue Ribbon honors.”

The schools will be invited by the U.S. Department of Education to apply to be National Blue Ribbon Schools. With underwriting and gift sponsors, each school will receive a Maryland Blue Ribbon Flag, a monetary prize, $1000 in office supplies, interactive technology equipment, and a school Congratulations Party. A dinner in Annapolis will be held in honor of the winning schools on March 12, 2018. On that date, each Blue Ribbon School will be honored by the Maryland House of Delegates and the Senate.

Read the full press release for more information.

State’s Rank Rises on Forbes ‘Best States for Business’ List

Maryland is inching closer to the top of Forbes “Best State for Business List” ranking in at number 26 over all. That is up from number 30 last year.

From Bethesda Magazine:

Maryland rose four spots to come in at number 26 on the business publication’s annual “Best States for Business” list this year. Forbes ranks states based on six factors—business costs, labor supply, economic climate, regulatory environment, growth prospects and quality of life. Maryland ranked seventh overall in labor supply, but was outside the top 25 in four other categories and 16th in growth prospects.

The article notes that North Carolina came in first and that West Virginia came in at last.

Read Bethesda Magazine for more information.

 

Conduit Street Podcast, Episode #6 – Solar, Solar… Everywhere?

Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires that renewable sources generate specified percentages of Maryland’s electricity supply each year, increasing to 25% by 2020, including 2.5% from solar energy.

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Les Knapp discuss the relationship between Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and local governments.

MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

Anne Arundel Wins National Award for Public Utility Management

The 2017 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence recognizes Anne Arundel’s ten-year program to end reliance on Baltimore for drinking water.

The Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works (DPW), Bureau of Utility Operations (BUO) is one of only fourteen public drinking water systems in the United States to be awarded a top utility management award from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA). The 2017 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence recognizes the County’s ten-year capital improvement program to end reliance on the City of Baltimore for 25 percent of the county’s drinking water supply.

According to a press release:

The coordinated efforts of the Bureau of Utilities and Bureau of Engineering enabled the County to complete vital capital projects within the strategic plan providing the infrastructure needed to produce enough water to serve areas of the County previously served by the City of Baltimore.  These capital projects were completed in September of 2017 and enabled the County to become an independent and self sufficient water system.  These efforts have saved the County $8.5 million over the last 10 years and will result in an annual savings of $1.5 million.

“We are proud of this award and all the members of our DPW team for their great work,” said County Executive Steve Schuh. “These efforts will ensure the sustainability of our system, reduce operating costs, and control the quality of water the citizens of Anne Arundel County receive for decades to come.”

“Our 2017 management award winners are a credit to their communities, and we salute their formidable accomplishments,” said AMWA President Scott Potter.

Read the full press release for more information.

Gov. Hogan Proposes Alternative Paid Sick Leave Bill

Governor Hogan today announced that his administration will introduce “The Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018” as emergency legislation on the first day of the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session. The bill, phased in over three years, would apply to employers with 50 or more employees in 2018, employers with 40 or more employees in 2019, and employers with 25 or more employees in 2020.

Under the proposal, businesses would be required to provide employees with at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. The Governor’s bill includes a provision to allow businesses that can demonstrate a significant financial hardship to apply for a hardship waiver, exempting them from the paid sick leave requirement.

Governor Hogan also announced a companion bill, which would provide $100M in tax incentives to small businesses to offset the costs of providing employees with paid sick leave.

Earlier this year, Governor Hogan vetoed  HB 1 / SB 230, Labor and Employment – Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, a bill that would have required employers with 15 or more full-time employees to provide workers with at least five days of sick and safe leave per year.

Hogan had proposed a rival bill that would require paid sick and safe leave for businesses with 50 or more employees and provide tax incentives to smaller businesses that provide leave. Democrats rejected that approach, noting that large businesses typically already provide employees with paid sick leave.

The bill was passed by veto-proof margins in both the Senate and House of Delegates. The General Assembly could override the Governor’s veto when it reconvenes next January.

HB 1 / SB 230 would have also required county governments to provide sick leave to all employees. While county governments generally provide generous benefits, at a much higher rate than the legislation would require, MACo opposed the legislation, raising concerns about the bill’s potential effects on provision of emergency and essential services and with the bill’s broad requirements for providing leave to part-time, seasonal, and contractual employees in the same manner as full-time employees.

Quick coverage from Hannah Marr on Twitter:

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more coverage, or contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo with any additional questions.

Useful Links

MACo Testimony on HB 1

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Governor Hogan Vetoes Sick Leave Bill

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland General Assembly Gives Final OK to Democrats’ Sick Leave Bill

Salisbury Files Lawsuit Against Volunteer Firefighters

The city of Salisbury has filed a lawsuit seeking the return of property and money from a group of volunteer firefighters who broke away. The dispute between the city and the firefighters cropped up in February when the volunteer firefighters at Salisbury’s Station 1 announced they would separate from the Salisbury Fire Department after the city refused to participate in formal mediation to settle disputes over station staffing.

The Daily Times of Salisbury reports:

The case filed in Wicomico County Circuit Court names Company 1 and 11 of its officers individually. It is the latest challenge in the firefighters’ efforts to start a new fire station and gain their own territory since they separated from the city in February.

The city is asking the court to grant a temporary restraining order to prohibit Company 1 from spending any public funds distributed by Wicomico County.

It also asks that Company 1 be compelled to produce an accounting of how it has spent any funds from public or charitable sources, and that an independent auditor be appointed to review records.

In March, the breakaway firefighters announced they were in the process of finding a new building with plans to take over a part of the county served by the city’s Station 1.

But a new fire service agreement between the city and county signed in April kept the boundaries of the Salisbury Fire Department’s coverage area intact.

All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. The evolution of volunteer fire companies presents both challenges and opportunities for county governments. At this year’s annual MACo Winter Conference, learn how Maryland counties are collaborating with volunteer fire companies to protect lives, property, and the environment.

Title: Together We Respond: A Collaborative Approach to Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Description: All of Maryland’s twenty-four jurisdictions depend on some level of volunteers for the delivery of fire and rescue service. As volunteer fire companies continue to evolve, it is critical for local governments to strengthen their relationships with local volunteer firefighters. This session will provide an overview of the challenges and best practices related to the volunteer fire service in Maryland. Speakers will discuss challenges in oversight and authority, recruiting and retaining volunteers, and funding for both volunteer companies and county governments.

Speakers:

  • Richard Devore, Director of Emergency Services, Allegany County
  • Tom Owens, EFO, Director/Chief, Division of Frederick County Fire & Rescue Services
  • Michael Faust, Second Vice President, Maryland State Fireman’s Association
  • Clarence “Chip” Jewell, Director/Deputy Chief, Frederick County Division of Volunteer Fire & Rescue Services

Moderator: The Honorable Johnny Mautz, Maryland House of Delegates

Date/Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference:

Maryland Apprenticeship Program On the Rise

State Looks to Expand Apprenticeships and Job-Training Programs

In an effort to expand apprenticeships in Maryland, Frederick County Public Schools and Washington County Public Schools are serving as pilot programs for Apprenticeship Maryland, a program designed to train young people and help employers hire skilled workers.

According to the Herald-Mail:

“The schools have been administering the program since mid-2016. They have seen firsthand that apprenticeships work, and they know the good they do for our state’s youth,” Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz said in a news release. “FCPS wants a larger role in that work, and we are happy to facilitate that.”

Under Apprenticeship Maryland, juniors and seniors are hired as apprentices by eligible employers. They work at least 450 hours. They earn a high school diploma and a state skill certificate.

Tweaks to the program have already allowed for more help to the schools and employers. Secretary Schulz notes that while the pilots are still being evaluated, it is already evident that flexibility will be key should the program be expanded statewide.

Read the full article for more information.

Montgomery Department of Liquor Control Wins National Award

The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (DLC) has received the 2017 National StateWays Best Practices Award for its Legislative Outreach Program. The award specifically recognizes the DLC for its efforts in reaching out to local and state leaders at last year’s Maryland Alcohol Forum.

According to a press release,

“We are very excited to have won this national award,” said Robert Dorfman, director of the DLC. “We are a national model for public safety and it remains one of our highest priorities.”

The forum, “Innovative Solutions to Keeping Communities Safe,” was geared to alcohol licensing administrators from counties around the state. The event highlighted alcohol licensing needs, which require legislative changes at the state level, and it educated attendees about the public safety benefits of alcohol regulation. The forum was funded by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA).

“Participants were involved in open discussions about the importance of alcohol regulation as it pertains to public health,” said Emily DeTitta, outreach manager for the DLC. “It was very positive. The event revealed common goals such as supporting the health and welfare of our residents and creating a safe and vibrant nightlife.”

Over the past few years, the number of alcohol-licensed businesses in Montgomery County has been the highest in County history, at nearly 1,100, which is second in the state behind Baltimore City.

Read the full press release for more information.

America’s Opioid Epidemic Has a $504 Billion Price Tag

The opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015—nearly 3 percent of the gross domestic product in that same year.

The United States is grappling with a widespread opioid epidemic. More than a thousand people a week die from opioid-related overdoses. The crisis has reached such a scale that, beyond the risks it poses to public health, it is becoming a drag on the national economy.

According to Route Fifty,

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers says the opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015.

The CEA estimate is more than six times higher than the most recent analysis that preceded it. The last time a study of the epidemic’s cost was examined, researchers found that the crisis had cost $79.9 billion. That study was carried out in 2016 and was based on 2013 data.

The CEA analysis is higher because, first, previous studies underestimated the economic cost of the loss of life from this epidemic, and second, those previous estimates did not account for the underreporting of opioid deaths.

The CEA analysis relied upon previous research which found that actual opioid-related death rates were 24 percent higher than what was being reported in official tallies. This underreporting is due in part to imprecise categories on death certificates and the difficulties associated with post-mortem toxicology screening.

Heroin and opioid deaths continue to skyrocket in Maryland and across the country. The crisis has been exacerbated by the deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

At the 2017 MACo Winter Conference, you can receive hands-on training on how to recognizing and responding to opioid overdose by administering naloxone as well as how to perform hands-only CPR. The “Learn to Save a Life” trainings, sponsored by the Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO), are being offered Wednesday, December 6 from 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm and Thursday, December 7 from 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm.

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference: