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Wes Moore’s priorities for education includes more teachers of color and universal pre-K

Democrats Aruna Miller (left) and Wes Moore react during an election night gathering after Miller was declared the winner in the race for the Maryland lieutenant governor and Moore was declared the winner in the gubernatorial race in Baltimore.
Julio Cortez
/
AP
Democrats Aruna Miller (left) and Wes Moore react during an election night gathering after Miller was declared the winner in the race for the Maryland lieutenant governor and Moore was declared the winner in the gubernatorial race in Baltimore.

Democrat Wes Moore will be sworn in Wednesday afternoon as Maryand’s first elected Black leader of the state’s highest office. In a recent interview, Moore spoke with WYPR about his history-making position, as well as his plans for education and Maryland schools.

Moore said knowing that he is making history as the state’s first Black governor is “humbling.”

“The history of it is not lost on me at all, particularly because I understand the history of this state,” the governor-elect said. “This is the state of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman and Thurgood Marshall.”

However, he also pointed to the broad spectrum of voters who supported him in the election.

“When we think about all the people who supported us, and truthfully all the people who did not support us, all their voices are going to matter in this, and I plan on and I'm excited to be their governor, too,” he said. “While I appreciate and I'm humbled by the history that we're making, making history is not the assignment.”

Throughout that history-making campaign, Moore frequently turned to education as a key pillar in his platform.

During the interview, Moore said his philosophy on public schools differs from outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan’s in that he plans to work “in partnership” with teachers.

Policy-wise, Moore has a long wishlist, including a program that would encourage high school graduates to participate in a year of public service before going on to college or a job. He also hopes to expand access to public pre-kindergarten, recruit more teachers of color, and build out the state’s apprenticeship and trade programs.

“The only benchmark for a student should not be, well, did they get accepted to a four-year college?” Moore said. “That's not the path for every student. That wasn't my path.”

Moore earned an associate degree from Valley Forge Military College in 1998, and a bachelor’s degree three years later from Johns Hopkins University.

Moore acknowledges that many of his plans are similar to programs already under way through the school system reform plan known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

“There is a lot of core alignment, what we have with the Blueprint, so you will see in the budget that we are going to be presenting, we're going to be making a historic downpayment on that, but we also know that in order for it to be effective, that we are going to have to implement this in partnership,” Moore said.

To help families with children too young for pre-K, Moore spoke during his campaign about needing to fix Maryland’s childcare system.

“We have to get ourselves to a point, to a state where we are fixing a childcare system that is ruptured and in a state of just utter disrepair, where we have literally had hundreds of childcare centers close since COVID,” Moore said, when asked to describe some specifics of his plan for childcare. “You cannot get an economy that is going to work if you still have a significant portion of the economy that cannot get back to work because we're forcing them to choose.”

He said a key component of this effort needs to be supporting childcare providers, many of whom are women as business owners. Though there are already state-funded financial assistance programs — both scholarships that help families pay tuition and subsidies that go directly to providers — Moore said he hopes to build on these, both with direct budgetary support and with other forms of more indirect support.

The governor-elect suggested more details about all of these policies will become clear in the coming days and weeks, as he unveils his budget and legislative package.

Rachel Baye is a reporter for WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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