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September 9, 2015

The Path to Privatizing Our Schools

Cindy A. Rose

Some of you may have noticed my absence from opining on It was not for loss of interests. I needed to lighten my load because I was, and still am, fighting what I consider the civil rights issue of our time – education policy.

I’m still fighting that fight. Because we read so little of it in the news, my frustration over the lack of seeing the public informed has brought me back to public writing.

I’m not going to rehash who and how we got where we are. You can read some of my older columns and bring yourself up to speed. You can, of course, always e-mail me questions; I always respond.

So here we currently sit at the crossroads in public education of big corporate takeover, over testing (for profit) and loss of parental control. Where is this governor going to take us? Down the road to privatizing public education? His current State Board of Education picks certainly signal that direction. Is Maryland going to take education out of the hands of parents, educators and communities and place them in the hands of for profit (some disguised as non-profit) groups?

If you thought Gov. Larry Hogan was a friend to parents and local control, you might want to rethink that. I know I am.

Governor Hogan had the perfect opportunity to rid the state of Maryland of the PARCC Assessments (Partnership of Assessments for Readiness in College and Career). Parents and teachers agree that these assessments are meaningless to the education of our children. They measure nothing teachers can use to perfect their craft. They are not for the benefit of the “student;” they are to measure the “system.” Even if they did, the results of last year’s tests won’t be back until the end of 2015 (hopefully). Don’t get me started on arbitrary “cut scores.”

I am willing to give Governor Hogan, for now, the benefit of the doubt. The Maryland State Department of Education (MDE) and/or his staff advised him that we cannot get rid of PARCC because we will lose millions in federal funding. Even though, to this writer’s knowledge, it has never happened anywhere in the United States.

This misinformation was again conveyed to the governor and Comptroller Peter Franchot during the August 26, 2015, Board of Public Works hearing. Per a *Maryland Reporter article: “Franchot scoffed at the loss of federal funds, noting it had never happened in Maryland, and Kristy Michel, chief operating officer of MDE, said it had only happened to Washington state, which is appealing the decision."

As it so happens in June of this year I had reached out to the Washington State Board of Education and asked if they had ever lost funding. Per Andrew J. Parr, senior policy analyst for the Washington State board, they were not denied funding and no appeal is taking place.

This begs the question, who is advising the advisors of Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot? We are talking millions of dollars and people’s lives and livelihoods. We can’t afford to have the decision makers making decisions based on erroneous information.

I have reached out to all parties involved. I have supplied them with the communications between Mr. Parr and myself. I’m hoping to get the record set straight. The governor feared loss of federal funding and based a decision on believing sanctions had been meted out. Were they?

Are the people at MSDE qualified to be informing the governor?

Twitter   @CSRose1963




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