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Maryland close to adopting bill to fund public schools

Annapolis, MD - In an almost unanimous decision, the Senate has advanced an education plan that could supply Maryland's public school system with hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding.

This bill, known as the "Blueprint for Maryland's Future," incorporated suggestions by the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to fund public schools with over $850 million in extra funding over the course of the next two years. 

According to the General Assembly of Maryland web site, "The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future" passed a third reading of the state senate with a 45-0 vote in its favor (one legislator was absent). 

"This bill as it stands before us is well-crafted, it's well-put-together," notes Senator Andrew Serafini. "A lot of people put a lot of work into this and the funding is there. It is a responsible bill and moves us in a good direction." 

According to the Baltimore Sun, funding would go to one of three primary areas: teacher salary, prekindergarten expansion initiatives, and creating a type of community schooling in areas stricken with poverty.

Advocates for the bill -- and for the educational system in Maryland -- claim that public schools are underfunded by almost $3 billion each year. This could make a huge difference for the teachers who are often underpaid throughout the United States. Even though 100% of insurance premiums are deductible from gross income, jumping through these financial hoops have put a strain on many of the educators in our nation. Even North Carolina is facing an educational protest regarding wages on May 1.

However, the bill hopes to do far more.

The bill also hopes to establish stronger rates of career and college readiness for students by the end of their 10th grade of schooling. Maryland already has some of the highest AP scores in the United States, with an average of 3.03 out of five points. However, it's thanks to these initiatives that Maryland's grades will likely increase, especially when this bill demands professional development programs for racial awareness and cultural competency.

In order to form a stronger education system, the bill wants to hold teachers accountable for their actions. Right now, there's even an ongoing Federal investigation against the Montgomery County Public Schools over discrimination against Asian-American students. 

According to U.S. News, a new screening and selection process for Montgomery admissions has resulted in fewer Asian-American children being accepted. It's estimated that over 10 complaints have been made against the school already under claims of discrimination. 

While the Montgomery system spokesperson, Derek Turner, claims that the drop in numbers was due to an increased number of applicants, this type of bias training can help teachers overcome social stigmas and ideas. 

The bill will also highlight special education and focus on its expansion. This includes students who learn differently, but it also incorporates children who suffer from communication issues. For example, it's estimated that 5% of children will have a noticeable speech disorder when they enter the first grade.

The Washington Post also noted the creation of an Office of the Inspector General seat. This person would thus be in charge of any fraud or abuse claims in the public school systems.

In regard to cost allocation, members of the Senate are currently working on the fine details over the course of the next nine months.

In light of the naysayers opposing the bill, Sen. Bill Ferguson hopes to quell any fear that the bill will fail.

"The fact is, these lofty goals are achievable in Maryland," he said. "The message today is 'that this is just a first step.' Over the next nine months, we must have a very real and challenging and hard conversation about whether or not we have the political will to put this vision into action. I believe we do."

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