The “Network for Public Education,” a nonprofit advocacy group, launched by Diane Ravitch and her allies in 2013, recently published state-by-state “report cards” on six aspects of education policy, and the evaluations are disquieting. After a dozen years of increased funding under the Bridge to Excellence Act, Maryland squeaked by with an overall grade of […]
The “Network for Public Education,” a nonprofit advocacy group, launched by Diane Ravitch and her allies in 2013, recently published state-by-state “report cards” on six aspects of education policy, and the evaluations are disquieting.
After a dozen years of increased funding under the Bridge to Excellence Act, Maryland squeaked by with an overall grade of a low “C” and one “D” for over-reliance on standardized testing. The rating is certainly better than the national average of “D,” across the board, but not exactly a ringing endorsement of Maryland’s resolve to deliver appropriate resources to public schools.
This announcement arrived on the heels of Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State speech that included his advocacy for “The Maryland Education Tax Credit,” which ostensibly would permit citizens, businesses and non-profits to receive a tax credit for donations to public and non-public schools.
Three immediate objections come to mind when considering such a policy. Why would we remove dollars from the general fund to encourage donations to certain schools when sufficient funding for every school remains a political pipedream? How will such a policy engender the precepts of adequacy and equity upon which the Bridge to Excellence Act is founded? Finally, wouldn’t such a policy hinder the legislature from meeting the constitutional demands of Article VIII?
The issue of school quality being determined by zip code has yet to be resolved locally, or nationally, since education funding is still largely decided by local real estate values. Furnishing tax incentives to the affluent will serve only to deepen the educational divide between the schools of the “haves” and those of the “have nots.” Remarkably, achievement gaps have been narrowing for all demographic groups, save one: the achievement gap between rich and poor children continues to widen.
Permitting individuals and corporations to cherry pick which schools they support will hasten a giant step backward in social justice for all children. The affluent have always delivered educational advantages to their children; it is to be expected. The natural advantages of wealth should not, however, disadvantage children of poverty by lessening contributions to the general fund and, thereby, the common welfare of our citizenry.
Do we believe an effective public education for all children to be the foundation of a vibrant culture and a just society? Do we believe the inexhaustible potential of all children can best be nurtured by delivering educational opportunities regardless of social standing? This generation would do well to recall the wisdom of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s belief that, “the test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”