Mary­land’s fis­cally dis­mal pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

In Mary­land, we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a fis­cally dis­mal pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cri­sis that in my es­ti­ma­tion will con­tinue to grow. Cur­rently, the two largest school dis­tricts where prob­lems ex­ist are Mont­gomery and Prince Ge­orge’s coun­ties, where school bud­gets ex­ceed $1 bil­lion. How does that af­fect the cit­i­zens liv­ing in Calvert County? To me, it re­volves around how ed­u­ca­tion tax dol­lars are dis­trib­uted and how ef­fec­tively these tax dol­lars serve all of the cit­i­zens in Mary­land.

The two Washington Post Metro sec­tion ar­ti­cles that I have cited below high­light some of the ed­u­ca­tional prob­lems that ex­ist and the bud­get prob­lems all Mary­land tax­pay­ers con­tin­u­ally bear.

In the Oct. 9 Washington Post Metro sec­tion, there was an ar­ti­cle writ­ten by Donna St. Ge­orge ti­tled “Teacher in abuse case kept work­ing.” The first para­graph stated: “A Head Start teacher who forced a 3-year-old to mop up his own urine and sent a mock­ing photo of the episode to the child’s mother was al­lowed to stay in a lo­cal teach­ing job …” Later this ar­ti­cle stated: “Prince Ge­orge’s school of­fi­cials say more than 250 em­ploy­ees are on paid ad­min­is­tra­tive leave amid al­le­ga­tions re­lated to in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct, abuse or ne­glect.”

I asked the su­per­in­ten­dent of Calvert County Pub­lic Schools, Daniel Curry, how many em­ploy­ees are cur­rently on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave. Dr. Curry stated that: “CCPS hap­pens to have three out at the mo­ment while in­ves­ti­ga­tions pro­ceed. They are three in­de­pen­dent is­sues. I have to say that num­ber is un­usual. Three are more com­mon for en­tire year.” With 250 peo­ple on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave in Prince Ge­orge’s, is there any won­der that lo­cal, state and fed­eral tax dol­lars are un­able to suf­fice in the ed­u­ca­tional arena?

In the Oct. 23 Washington Post Metro sec­tion, there was an ar­ti­cle writ­ten by Donna St. Ge­orge ti­tled “School dis­trict records key shift.” In the ar­ti­cle, this re­porter states that His­panic stu­dents in Mont­gomery County now are the largest en­roll­ment group. This county is the largest school dis­trict in Mary­land with over 159,000 stu­dents, where nearly 55,000 re­ceive free or re­duced-price meals. Many of these stu­dents who are ea­ger to learn have the ob­sta­cle of English as their sec­ond lan­guage. Many dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­als quoted in this ar­ti­cle seem con­fi­dent that this highly re­garded ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem will con­tinue pro­vid­ing stu­dents with an out­stand­ing learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence; how­ever, they all re­al­ized chal­lenges will have to be over­come and ad­di­tional rev­enues will be needed.

Mar yland has a debt in the bil­lions of dol­lars and our fed­eral gov­ern­ment is al­most $20 tril­lion in the hole. Our only hope is in the ed­u­ca­tion of all our chil­dren, re­gard­less of race or eth­nic­ity, where they re­ceive the ed­u­ca­tion nec­es­sar y so that their in­ge­nu­ity can fos­ter pros­per­ity. How­ever, in­com­pe­tence and ne­glect in ed­u­ca­tion should not be tol­er­ated. Pe­riod. Af­ter all, we are the peo­ple.

John Pe­tralia, Sun­der­land

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