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Education

Education reporting on WYPR is supported in part by the Sylvan-Laureate Foundation.

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With coronavirus infections on the rise in Maryland, school systems are reevaluating their plans for in-person learning. 

Seth Sawyers/flickr

Special education students make up 12 percent of the enrollment in Maryland public schools.

With the school year just getting under way with virtual learning, advocates and parents say many of those students are already at risk of failure.

Krissy Venosdale // Flickr Creative Commons

The Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday approved a plan that sets the minimum number of hours students must receive live, online instruction from teachers.

The board backed off a proposal to put those requirements in place later this month, after critics said that was too soon, and would have caused confusion and chaos.

Flickr

Weeks after Maryland’s school systems submitted to the state plans for virtual learning this fall, the state school board is looking at a proposal for a minimum level of live, online instruction time for students.

The proposal comes as school is already under way in some parts of the state and about to begin in others.

SCREENSHOT VIA GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN FACEBOOK PAGE

Gov. Larry Hogan announced yesterday that all of Maryland’s public schools should plan for in-person learning this fall. The announcement comes just days before the start of the school year. 

“It is absolutely critical that we begin the process of getting our children safely and gradually back into the classrooms,” Hogan said at a late afternoon press conference. 

Wikimedia Commons

When Amy Stephens learned that St. Augustine School in Elkridge, Maryland, would offer a combination of in-person and virtual learning this fall, she asked if she could teach her music, theater and strings classes via livestream. She was told no, she would need to be physically in the classroom, interacting with the entire student body each week. 

So a couple of weeks ago, she quit her job.

Seth Sawyers/flickr

Public school students in central Maryland are starting the school year with a virtual learning model.

Thursday, three school superintendents laid out what needs to happen before those students can return to the classroom in a virtual discussion that got off to a rocky start with some technical difficulties.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak among both staff and the youth incarcerated there. As of Thursday, at least four of the facility’s 31 youth residents and at least three staff had confirmed cases of COVID-19.

 

As a result, the youth at the detention center have limited opportunities for education, and many have no interaction with their teachers.

Mary Rose Madden

Baltimore County Public School students will be receiving their instruction online for the first semester of the school year that begins in September.

That’s what the county school board decided Tuesday after some members sought flexibility in the draft reopening plan School Superintendent Darryl Williams presented to the board.

Rachel Baye / WYPR


Maryland public schools will likely operate this fall with a hybrid of in-person and virtual classes. Gov. Larry Hogan told NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday that he expects a report this week from state schools Superintendent Karen Salmon. 

 

Maryland won’t “be rushed into” reopening schools full-time this fall, Hogan said. “I think everybody would like to get our kids back to school as quickly as we can, but we also want to do it and make sure that our kids are going to be as safe as possible.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A COVID-19 outbreak at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center has caused the state to pause classes at the youth detention center and send educational staff home indefinitely. 

 

At least six staff at the facility have confirmed cases of COVID-19, officials said Friday.

Baltimore Heritage/Wikimedia Commons

Baltimore City Public Schools officials are grappling with how to educate the district’s nearly 80,000 students while the novel coronavirus outbreak keeps them out of the classroom at least through April 24. 

Rachel Baye/WYPR


 The Maryland General Assembly adjourned its annual 90-day legislative session on Wednesday, 19 days early as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time since the Civil War that the legislature cut its time in Annapolis short.

John Lee

Schools across Maryland were to be closed this week and next to slow the spread of coronavirus. Now, system administrators are preparing for the real possibility they might be closed even longer. 

Rachel Baye

A sweeping overhaul of Maryland’s public school system is one step closer to fruition after the state Senate passed it Monday night. The changes came out of what’s known as the Kirwan Commission, a state panel that spent three years developing recommendations for making Maryland’s schools globally competitive.

Rachel Baye

A landmark state education reform bill cleared a key hurdle Wednesday night as it passed out of two Senate committees.

The bill reflects the recommendations of what’s known as the Kirwan Commission, a state panel that spent three years studying how to make Maryland’s schools globally competitive.

But on Wednesday, the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee added what one member called an “escape hatch” that could reverse the changes after five years.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

State lawmakers have proposed a new sales tax on professional services as a way to pay for the Kirwan Commission’s recommended school system overhaul.

Under the bill introduced Thursday, services ranging from lawyers to contractors to haircuts would be taxed at 5%. The existing sales tax on tangible goods would be cut from 6% to 5%.

The Future Of Education In Baltimore

Jan 15, 2020
Eli Pousson / Baltimore Heritage via Flickr

Schools in Baltimore City have struggled over the years, and face a potential $60 million budget shortfall in 2021. Meanwhile lawmakers are debating whether or not to fully fund the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.  

 

On this episode of Future City, the monthly conversation on innovative responses to the city’s most pressing problems, we ask what it’s going to take to make Baltimore City schools the best that they can be. We explore how improvements to school buildings, wrap-around services and curriculum changes can be paid for and what Baltimore can learn from other jurisdictions. 

Rachel Baye / WYPR


  Typically when state lawmakers return to Annapolis for the annual 90-day legislative session, each brings a unique set of priorities. But when the General Assembly convenes for its 441st session on Wednesday, one subject is poised to overshadow almost everything else:  A proposal to overhaul public education in Maryland. 

Democratic leaders in the state Senate and House of Delegates say they are confident the legislature will pass the sweeping education reforms recommended by what is known as the Kirwan Commission, and they say they won’t raise taxes to pay for the plan.

Seth Sawyers/flickr

The General Assembly earlier this year tossed out Governor Larry Hogan’s 2016 executive order forcing school systems to wait until after Labor Day to start classes. 

 

School systems in Maryland now are considering taking advantage of that because they are facing a looming calendar crunch. Labor Day next year comes at its latest possible date, September 7.

 

 

Rachel Baye

A state panel has proposed a highly anticipated revamp of the formula Maryland uses to fund public schools. The new formula would facilitate a major overhaul of public education in the state that would eventually increase spending on schools by roughly $4 billion a year.

The formula gradually increases the state’s share of education costs so that in the year 2030, the state would spend an additional $2.8 billion. Local jurisdictions would be on the hook for the remaining $1.2 billion.

Midday Newsmaker: BTU President Diamonté Brown

Sep 17, 2019
Courtesy of Baltimore Teachers Union

Today, a conversation with Diamonté Brown, the new president of the Baltimore Teachers Union.  She was first elected last spring in a close and contentious race to lead the 7,000-member union of teachers and school para-professionals.  Her victory, which was officially certified in July after an investigation by the American Federation of Teachers, ended the long tenure of Marietta English, who was seeking her seventh 3-year term as BTU president.

Ms. Brown ran at the top of a coalition called The Union We Deserve.  She has pledged to improve accountability, engagement among union members, and to promote social justice.

A former teacher at Booker T. Washington Middle School, Ms. Brown now leads a union of teachers and school para-professionals who are working with a shrinking population of students, in the context of a deep political divide among lawmakers over funding for schools throughout the state. She joins us in studio A to discuss the present state of the union, and the school system improvements its members are striving for.

This program was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page; you can watch the video here.

Rachel Baye

The state Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that aims to reshape the way Maryland approaches public education.

Maryland will be the sixth state to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour after the General Assembly voted Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the legislation. It’s one of two vetoes the General Assembly voted mostly along party lines to override, and a third veto is expected to be overridden Friday.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Gov. Larry Hogan took aim on Monday at the job legislators are doing, focusing in particular on efforts to raise the minimum wage and to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more on schools.

Rachel Baye

Members of the Maryland General Assembly are rushing to meet a legislative deadline Monday, which is known as Crossover Day in Annapolis. Any bills that have not passed in one chamber and “crossed over” to the other by the end of the day will face an additional hurdle and are less likely to become law this year.

This is the latest on some of the issues lawmakers are grappling with this year.

Minimum Wage

Rachel Baye

Thousands of teachers, parents and students marched in Annapolis Monday night, seeking more funding for public schools. The march, which was organized by the Maryland State Education Association teachers union, culminated in the largest rally at the State House in recent memory. 

Organizers say 200 buses carried teachers from across the state, as far as Garrett County in Western Maryland, about three hours away. They estimate that there were about 8,500 people filling the streets, many of them wearing red beanies and carrying red cowbells and signs.

Twenty-four years ago, a judge ordered fundamental changes to the way Baltimore City Public Schools are managed and funded. The ruling, the result of a 1994 lawsuit, led to Maryland’s current public school funding formula.

Then over the next decade, the court issued more opinions, saying that Baltimore students continued to be shortchanged.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a motion in Baltimore City Circuit Court to reopen that 1994 lawsuit. In the filing, they accuse Maryland of violating the state constitution by underfunding Baltimore City schools.

Rachel Baye

Legislators in Annapolis will have their first chance to weigh in on recommendations by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — better known as the "Kirwan Commission" — which is studying ways to improve K-12 education in Maryland. A bill reflecting many of those recommendations is to go before a Senate committee Wednesday afternoon.

Rachel Baye

Irma Pretsfelder was born in 1926 in a small village in Germany. She was 11 years old in November 1938, when the synagogue where she went to school was burned, during what is known as Kristallnacht.

“The next morning, policemen came and said to my father, ‘I have to take you into custody,’” she told the state Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Wednesday afternoon. “‘But why are you taking me? What have I done?’ He said, ‘I have to obey orders. I have to take you to the next town.’”

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