Ho­gan ve­toes bill on lag­ging schools

Gover­nor: For­mula too lax on stan­dards

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY BRIAN WITTE

ANNAPOLIS | Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan ve­toed Mary­land’s blue­print for iden­ti­fy­ing and as­sist­ing strug­gling schools on Wed­nes­day, say­ing the for­mula ap­proved by the Demo­crat-led leg­is­la­ture weak­ens ac­count­abil­ity and un­der­mines state ef­forts to help.

Mr. Ho­gan, speak­ing at the Bal­ti­more Col­le­giate School for Boys, said the bill is too lax on aca­demic per­for­mance stan­dards, caves in to spe­cial in­ter­ests and would make it “nearly im­pos­si­ble” for the state to fix strug­gling schools.

“In­stead of rac­ing to the top, we would be trapped in a race to the bot­tom,” Mr. Ho­gan said. “This bill would make us one of the least ac­count­able school sys­tems in the United States of Amer­ica.”

The bill passed last week by the Gen­eral Assem­bly cre­ates a for­mula for iden­ti­fy­ing strug­gling schools. Aca­demic per­for­mance would com­prise 65 per­cent of the for­mula, with a va­ri­ety of other in­di­ca­tors also play­ing a role in eval­u­at­ing school per­for­mance.

Sup­port­ers say the for­mula takes into con­sid­er­a­tion im­por­tant fac­tors be­yond aca­demic per­for­mance, such as at­ten­dance, safety and teacher qual­ity.

They say it en­ables law­mak­ers to cre­ate a com­pre­hen­sive set of stan­dards be­fore a Septem­ber dead­line for states to sub­mit a plan to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, stan­dards that take a big-pic­ture view of how schools suc­ceed and why some don’t.

Betty Weller, who heads the state teacher’s union, said the gover­nor’s op­po­si­tion is a re­flec­tion of poli­cies sup­ported by Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos.

“Gover­nor Ho­gan’s veto of the Pro­tect Our Schools Act isn’t out of left field, but it’s cer­tainly out of touch,” said Ms. Weller, who is pres­i­dent of the Mary­land State Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion. “It’s pro­foundly frus­trat­ing that the gover­nor re­fuses to stand with par­ent, ed­u­ca­tor, and civil rights groups in sup­port of a smarter, more trans­par­ent ap­proach to hold­ing schools ac­count­able, and in­stead stands with Betsy DeVos in at­tempt­ing to pri­va­tize our pub­lic schools.”

Mr. Ho­gan also has said that Mary­land could lose tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in fed­eral fund­ing un­der the bill, but sup­port­ers of the leg­is­la­tion dis­pute that.

The Mary­land State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion unan­i­mously op­poses the bill.

The mea­sure is the leg­is­la­ture’s re­sponse to the fed­eral Ev­ery Stu­dent Suc­ceeds Act, which was ap­proved in 2015. It al­lows states to de­cide how to use a mix of test scores, aca­demic growth and other fac­tors, such as chronic ab­sen­teeism, to iden­tify fail­ing schools.

The gover­nor re­jected the bill in time for the Gen­eral Assem­bly to over­ride his veto be­fore law­mak­ers ad­journ on Mon­day at mid­night. The bill passed in both houses with enough sup­port to over­ride Mr. Ho­gan’s veto.

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