Legislation was introduced in Maryland on March 4, 2019 to begin implementing the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations for public education. The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, Senate Bill 1030 / House Bill 1413, calls for an investment of $1 billion over two years for Maryland’s early childhood, primary, and secondary schools.
Key bill provisions of interest to the early childhood education community:
- The bill calls for full funding for Universal Prekindergarten for four-year-olds, at $29 million for FY 2020 and $51.1 million for FY 2021. The bill states that high quality, full-day prekindergarten programs would be provided via a mixed-delivery system, meaning that private child care and preschool programs, as well as public schools, would provide publicly funded pre-K.
- The bill proposes support for Judy Centers, which coordinate and provide services for young children and families located in the neediest communities.
- The bill’s broader provisions impacting elementary schools are pertinent for early childhood educators serving children in Kindergarten through third grade. These provisions include investments in high-quality teachers, and extra supports for schools in high-poverty communities. These investments would help improve public education for Maryland children in Kindergarten through third grade, the upper age range of the early childhood years.
Additional provisions of the bill include:
- Investments in high-quality diverse teachers and school leaders, including: elevating the teaching profession and improving teacher compensation; improving teacher preparation programs and standards.
- An instructional system that is benchmarked to word-class education standards, culminating in a college and career readiness standard.
- Additional supports and services for students needing extra assistance.
- Additional resources for children in communities with great needs, including high poverty and crime rates.
The bill also states a commitment to equity in education and a strong system of accountability.
The Maryland Association for the Education of Young Children supports HB 1413/ SB 1030, The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. MDAEYC supports high quality early learning for all children, birth through age eight. This legislation makes substantial investments to enable Maryland to have a world class education system at the early childhood, primary, and secondary levels. As an organization representing early childhood education professionals, MDAEYC affirms the importance of using Developmentally Appropriate Practice to provide high quality early education in all settings, including Prekindergarten through third grade classrooms.
Providing funds for Universal Pre-K is an important step to helping ensure all Maryland’s children have access to high-quality early education. Making investments to improve teacher professional development and compensation, and to promote educational equity with greater investments in schools in high-poverty communities, are all essential to ensuring that all children have access to a high-quality education. Equitable access to quality public education is an essential component of our democratic society.
The Kirwan Commission, officially known as the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education and chaired by former University of Maryland Chancellor William Kirwan, is a statewide commission with the charge of making recommendations for Maryland’s Education system.