On Friday I had a meeting with 2 aides for Gov. Ehrlich. The aides are charged with coming up with reforms to improve education in Maryland.
I came "armed" with the suggestions that I wrote about here. I developed others and they follow:
- Disruptive students get suspended. The parents must go to the school to get the students back into school.
- Kids with multiple suspensions are suspended and not allowed to return to school until the students are tested to find academic deficiencies. This is done because many kids who are disruptive in school, are also having academic problems. They may also be having personal problems but that is a fine line that I don't want to cross with government intrusion.
- School and parents/guardians must agree to a plan to bring kid back up to speed. This may include being transfered to another school just for that purpose.
- State tax credit or state tax deduction for parents who get tutors for their children.
- State tax credit or state tax deduction for parents who have education savings accounts.
- State tax credit or state tax deduction for individuals who tutor. This would apply towards supplies and travel expenses.
- Mandatory vo-tech requirements starting in the 6th grade.
- Any child who drops out of school, gets 1 year of vo-tech training at a for-profit extended education school, free, if they pass the course. Or, as a requirement to “be allowed to drop out”, they get vo-tech training in the public school system with an internship program with partner private companies.
- How-to PSAs encouraging parents to take part in children’s education from pre-natal care to helping out in school work to attending school board meetings to volunteering in school to how to get tutor help Private/church tutoring programs encouraged by allowing programs to use school space to tutor.
It was a wide ranging discussion that covered my bullet points, what the administration was doing, the work of the year-long education commission chaired by Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, strategies, problems, successes, and future plans. It was a true discussion. By that I mean, they hit the points they wanted to hit, but so did I and we exchanged ideas, some of which were new to them, some of which were not.
First, read how a Black Democrat (they are friends of the Black population, right?), is blocking an effort to improve a low performing high school.
The political reality is Gov. Ehrlich is a Republican fighting a Democrat controlled state assembly and teacher unions. As such, things that are legislative in nature, are going to get a tough time. I knew that going into the meeting but I had to put the ideas on the table.
My Ideas They Liked
- They liked the idea about kids being able to attend schools, freely, across school district boundaries. The reality is, in some cases, it already exists. For example, county kids are able to attend schools in Baltimore if they want to do so. And, some do. Their parents pay the school system to do it, but they do it.
- The use of PSAs to encourage parents to be an active part in their child's education.
- Tax credits or deductions for parents who pay for tutors and for tutors who pay for supplies.
What Is Currently Being Done
They told me what the Ehrlich administration is currently doing in the area of education. This also included, naturally, them "defending" some of their actions and "attacking" the actions of the opposition. It was interesting to learn that the administration aided a Black pastor in Hartford County, MD, go through the process of applying to open a charter school and getting it approved. They wanted to show that charter schools are a concept that is applicable to the counties as well as Baltimore city. The school will be opened next school year.
They told me how Baltimore City underfunded charter schools and how the charter schools sued the city, and won, on the funding scheme.
Public school systems must provide as much money per pupil to charter school operators as they spend on regular public schools, the state Court of Special Appeals ruled Friday, siding with the state in a dispute with Baltimore.
The court -- the second-highest in the state -- said the funding must be in cash rather than in-kind services. Baltimore now spends the equivalent of about $11,000 per child in its regular public schools. Charter schools in the city receive $5,859 per child in cash and the rest in services that the school system provides, such as special education and food.
There is more that I may write about, especially since much of it can "tweak" those Blacks who think Democrats are "our" "friends".
What Can Be Done
I mentioned that I thought the Baltimore school board should be blown up. They asked me to provide names of people who I would like to see on the board. I provided 3 names, one of which would be a strong advocate for children, but who thinks the Ehrlich administration is racist. This person also thinks O'Malley is racist, but it would be nice to put this person in the middle of it. Surprisingly, they were receptive to the idea.
I suggested that more should be done to encourage colleges to adopt schools in Baltimore in particular. I pointed out the work that Coppin is doing and stated Bowie, Morgan, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore should be used more effectively. That is when I was told about the situation at Coppin. This brought up another discussion on political realities, and I started thinking of ways to subvert the perverse politics being played by Black Democrat politicians in Maryland.
I suggested they contact groups like 100 Black Men, who they already are working with, the Positive Black Men's Coalition, the Black Greeks, and some of the megga churches in the area. I'll see what I can do in that area. (Cobb? You reading? Your frat had an announcement, so can you provide points of contact here?)