Home > Policies > Education Policy > 2017 Legislation to Watch: Education

ACY’s main education priorities during this legislative session fall into two categories: (1) Funding and (2) School Climate and Discipline. We will continue to work for legislative and policy changes that will aim to limit cuts to education funding advocate for increases to address the ever-growing needs of its students. Meeting the needs of Maryland students also requires employing innovative approaches to encourage learning opportunities for all children and youth, including early education and adult learning opportunities for youth who became disconnected from their education.

Engaging and re-engaging students also requires a positive school climate with discipline policies and practices that that fairly, appropriately, and equitably respond to student behaviors, rather than criminalize minor incidents. Schools must implement alternatives to exclusions that focus on restorative practices, mindfulness, conflict resolution, and other appropriate responses to behavior that are designed to keep kids in school and on track to graduate. Comprehensive training on the new policies will also be a fundamental component of improving outcomes.

(1) Funding: 

HB516/ SB581 – Workgroup to Study the Implementation of Universal Access to Prekindergarten for 4-Year-Olds – PASSED!

ACY supported HB516/SB581, which establishes a workgroup to study the implementation of universal prekindergarten for four year olds. The recently completed Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education included recommendations regarding the implementation of universal prekindergarten in Maryland. The consultants from the Study recommended that Maryland offer universal prekindergarten for 4 year-olds, while ensuring that the prekindergarten programs available are high quality. The workgroup created by HB516/SB581 will provide information for the Kirwan Commission to use to in making its recommendations later this year. The workgroup is an opportunity to look deeper into specific aspects of implementation and evaluate logistics in more detail to ensure that the Kirwan Commission has a strong basis from which to form its recommendations.

Updates:

HB516

February 14th – A hearing was held in the House Ways and Means Committee. ACY’s Education Policy Associate, Beth Doory, testified alongside the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Atterbeary, in favor of the bill.

February 23rd – The Ways and Means Committee voted the bill out of committee with amendments.

February 28th – The House passed the bill by a vote of 102-36.

March 6th – Bill was passed by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and sent to the Senate Floor.

March 9th– The full Senate passed the bill, 41-6.

March 10th – The bill returned PASSED to the House of Delegates!

SB581

March 1st – A hearing was held in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

March 6th – The Senate Committee passed the bill with amendments.

March 9th – The bill was passed on the Senate floor, by the same vote as its House crossfile, 41-6. It is scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee on March 21st.

SB346 – Education – Prekindergarten Students – Funding

ACY supports SB346 because it provides increased funding for prekindergarten programs, which are essential for kindergarten-readiness and lifelong educational and social successes. The legislation establishes supplemental prekindergarten grants, beginning in fiscal 2019, to local boards of education based on the number of economically disadvantaged four-year-old children enrolled in half-day prekindergarten (multiplied by 0.5) and in full-day prekindergarten on September 30 of the prior school year. Beginning in fiscal 2019, eligible prekindergarten students enrolled on September 30 of the previous school year are included in the enrollment count used to determine the local share of the foundation program. The calculations for funding in this legislation will ensure that counties have funding they need to make these essential, high quality programs available to more children in their communities.

Updates:

February 22nd – A hearing was held in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

April 10th-  This bill never got out of Committee, but we are hopeful that the goals of the legislation will be addressed by the Kirwan Commission.

SB557 – Education – Maryland Education Opportunity Account Program – Established

ACY opposes this bill because it allows public funds to support private schools in the State, when our public schools need funding. This bill would establish the Maryland Education Opportunity Account Program and an Authority charged with developing and managing the program. It requires that the Governor include a grant to the Authority in the annual State budget in an amount equal to the product of the per pupil foundation amount multiplied by the number of program accounts. The first priority of the State should be to ensure our children have the adequate public education that they are constitutionally guaranteed by reviewing and implementing changes to the State funding formula and only once adequacy and equity is reached in all of Maryland’s school systems, look for ways to reach out to nonpublic schools.

Updates:

February 23rdA hearing was held in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

April 10th– No further action was taken.

HB696/SB849 – Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Schools – Discrimination – Prohibition

ACY supports HB696 because it combats discrimination in schools that compromises the integrity of equal access to education and the best interests of children throughout the State. The bill promotes equal opportunity by prohibiting nonpublic schools that receive State funds from discriminating against any student or prospective student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Updates:

February 28th – A hearing was held on the Senate Bill and the House bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, respectively.

April 10th– Unfortunately, this important legislation did not move out of either committee this year.

HB878/SB704- Public Charter School Act of 2017 – UNFAVORABLE.

ACY opposed this legislation because we had serious concerned about its implications on public school funding. The creation of the Maryland Public Charter School Authority (Authority) is concerning on many fronts; particularly troubling is the allocation of public funds to schools that are still considered public, but that can be exempted from any policy or requirement that would be imposed upon a traditional public school in a particular jurisdiction, at the discretion of the seven-member Authority. Moreover, the State and county boards of education will have little, if any, authority over the charter schools under this legislation, and yet a portion of a county’s education budget will be diverted and paid directly to the charter school, based on the total enrollment of that charter school. While public charter schools can be an important option for families, they must continue to be governed under the same laws and obligations as traditional public schools in order to remain “public schools.” Without those obligations for accountability and governance by their county board, they are essentially private schools. ACY remains committed to ensuring that public funds be used for public schools.

Updates:

February 28th – A hearing was held in the House Ways and Means Committee.

March 2nd – The bill received and UNFAVORABLE report in the House Ways and Means Committee.

March 6th – The hearing on the Senate bill was cancelled, in light of the Unfavorable report of it’s crossfile in the House.

HB1381/SB866 – Adult High School Pilot Program -PASSED!

ACY supports HB1381/SB866 because it will address the educational and technical training needs of older youth who have not received high school diplomas, while accounting for their unique needs with wraparound services and additional resources. Through the programs contemplated by this legislation, young people can complete their high school educations and broaden career opportunities so that they may contribute meaningfully to their families and communities. The legislation authorizes the creation of six pilot programs across the state and is an important step in providing more opportunity for young people to reach their full potential.

Updates:

HB1381

March 7thA hearing was held on the bill in the House Economic Matters Committee. The House bill is jointly assigned to the Economic Matters Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

March 17th – The bill passed, 140-0, in the House of Delegates, after receiving unanimous votes in the House Ways and Means and Economic Matters Committees.  The bill will be sent to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

April 10th- The House bill passed on the final day of session, following the lead of its Senate companion bill.  We are excited for the opportunities this will open up for youth and young adults around the State!

SB866

March 1st – There was a hearing on the bill in the House Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

March 17th – The Senate bill passed 47-0 on the Senate Floor and will be sent to the House Committees for a review.

April 2nd– The bill has passed both Houses!

(2) School Climate & Discipline:  

HB425/SB651 – Public Schools – Suspensions and Expulsions – PASSED!

ACY supports HB 425/SB651 banning the out-of-school suspension and expulsion of prekindergarten to second grade students.  The only exception to this ban would be if they brought a gun to school, which is governed by the federal Gun Free Schools Act.  In the 2015-2016 school year, 2,363 pre-K to second grade students were suspended or expelled from Maryland’s public schools. These exclusions are a missed opportunity to identify underlying issues or teach important lessons. Young students who are expelled or suspended are more likely to be suspended in later grades, experience academic failure, hold negative attitudes toward school, drop out, and get caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. In recognition of just how unique and significant learning and development is during these years, MSDE applies its early learning standards to children from birth through age 8 and only begins high-stakes, MSA and PARCC testing in the third grade.  We need these children in school and learning lessons that will make them successful in school and in life!

Updates:

HB425

February 14th – The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on HB425.  ACY helped to organize panels of speakers that included parents, a teacher, a pediatrician, advocates, children’s attorneys, and more.  ACY submitted written testimony in support of this legislation, as did our many of our allies.  Read testimony from ACY, the Maryland Education Coalition (MEC), and the Maryland Coalition to Reform School Discipline (CRSD).

March 10th – The House Ways and Means Committee issued a report of Favorable With Amendments.  The bill will be send to the House floor for a vote next week.

March 16th  The bill passed, 91-48 on the House floor after some debate and the rejection of additional amendments during Second Reader.  The bill passed with the amendments passed by the Ways and Means Committee, including an exception stating that a student may be “suspended for no more than 9 days if the school administration in consultation with a school psychologist or other mental health professional determines that there is an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff that cannot be reduced or eliminated through interventions and supports.”  Though this exception does contain protections, the 9-day limit is problematic for a variety of reasons (see the talking points that ACY and other advocates from the Coalition to Reform School Discipline drafted to press for a shorter limit). We hope the bill will ultimately contain more favorable language, but we are excited that the measure it progressing!  Next stop is First Reading in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee!

April 8th–  After the Senate Committee amended the limit any suspension to 5-days, the Senate passed the bill, sent back to the House where they agreed to the amendment and the measure reached final passage!

SB651

March 8th – A hearing was held on the bill in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

March 20th –  The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee passed the Senate version with a 5-day limit for suspensions where the school administration in consultation with a school psychologist or other mental health professional determines that there is an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff that cannot be reduced or eliminated through interventions and supports. This 5-day limit is a vast improvement over the 9-day limit contained in the House version. We are hopeful this this limit will see its way to the finish line.

March 22nd – SB651 passed the Senate, 32-15 with the 5-day limit.  Because the bill was not passed before the “crossover” deadline, the measure will be sent to the House Rules Committee to determine whether it will be sent to the Ways and Means Committee for review.  We remain hopeful that the 5-day exception will still find its way into the bill that makes it into law!

April 10th –  On the final day of session, following the lead of its House crossfile, the Senate bill reached final passage with a 5-limit for suspensions and only in dangerous situations.  What a win for our littlest learners!

HB1222 – Maryland School Discipline Reform Act

This bill requires that local school systems adopt the Maryland Guidelines for a State Code of Discipline as their code of student discipline, and further requires MSDE to Maryland collect specified discipline data, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, and English language proficiency, and disseminate the data in a spreadsheet format as part of both Maryland Report Card and Maryland Longitudinal Data System.  ACY supports HB1222 because it will provide more uniformity in school discipline and require that disaggregated data be made available to the public in an effort to address disparities and improve educational outcomes for all children. Of the 42,428 suspensions and expulsions in grades K-12 last year, 61% were of Black/African-American students, even though they only account for 34% of the whole student population. Meanwhile, 24% of the total in-school and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions were students with disabilities, even though they are just under 12% of the student population. The rate of suspension also varies by county; in Somerset County, 19% of students were suspended, while in Garrett County just over 2% of students were suspended.   A spreadsheet format for data, proposed in this legislation, will allow for more in-depth, accurate analysis than the current static PDF provided by MSDE, to get a better why the numbers vary so significantly among certain groups of students and in particular locations. The passage of this legislation will help to ensure that school discipline is fair, equitable, and appropriate across the State.

Updates:

February 28th –  A hearing was held on this bill in the House Ways and Means Committee, ACY and the UMD’S Maryland Equity Project testified alongside the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Alonzo Washington of Prince George’s County.

April 10th – This ambitious bill didn’t make it out of committee this year.  We are hopeful that the work of the Commission on the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Restorative Practices will shine a light on this important topic and prompt further action in the coming years!

HB1287 – Commission on the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Restorative Practices- PASSED!

This legislation is new version of last year’s proposed Restorative Practices Task Force (HB1466).  This bill establishes the Commission on the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Restorative Practices, which would be staffed by the Center for Dispute Resolution at the University of Maryland School of Law. The Commission, which brings together State officials and administrators with practitioners of restorative practices, educators involved in the work, direct youth service providers, policy advocates, and youth themselves, is charged investigating potential implementation options for incorporating restorative practices in relation to both discipline and school climate, documenting the relationships between student discipline records and involvement in the criminal justice system, and examining national best practices for training of school personnel, and parent engagement, in order to develop a statewide discipline framework redesigning discipline practices through the use of restorative practices. The Commission will serve an important role in addressing the inconsistency of discipline practices among school systems, the disproportionate impact of discipline on some groups of students, and the school-to-prison pipeline, while providing additional options to teachers and improving education and life outcomes for our students.  Last year’s Task Force legislation passed unianimously in the House before receiving an unfavorable report in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.   We are hopeful that this year’s legislation will find success in both Houses.

Updates:

March 3rd – A hearing was held on this legislation in the House Ways and Means Committee.

March 18th – The bill passed the House floor unanimously, after a unanimous vote in Committee.  The bill will now move to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

March 29th – A brief hearing was held in the Senate Committee, where the bill’s sponsor Delegate Alonzo Washington asked for a Favorable Report.  Hopefully, the Senate Committee will vote favorably on the measure this year.

April 10th – On the final day of session, the Senate passed the bill with an amendment to add the valuable voice of the PTA to the Commission, the House agreed and the bill reached final passage!

Other Bills to Watch: 

SB908 – Maryland Education Development Collaborative – Established

 ACY supports the establishment of the Education Development Collaborative whose mission is to improve educational experiences and outcomes for Maryland children in the 21st century. The Collaborative is charged with collaborating stakeholders, including with local school systems, State and local government, employers, community organizations, parents, higher education institutions to provide a research and development approach learning opportunities in the State’s public schools and assist local school systems in enhancing socioeconomic diversity. This Collaborative offers an opportunity to transform our education system and incorporate practices that will help all children in our State reach their greatest potential.

Updates:

March 8th – A hearing was held in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

March 13th – The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee reported Favorable with Amendments on the bill, sending to the Senate floor for a vote in the coming days.

March 16th – The bill passed the Senate floor unanimously!  It is scheduled for a hearing in he House Ways and Means Committee on March 21st.

HB920 – Primary and Secondary Education – School Personnel – Training Requirement – PASSED!

This legislation requires all school personnel to complete training each year in the skills required to understand and respond to the social, emotional, and personal development of students, including specified knowledge and skills, specifically skills relating to (1) the recognition of indicators of mental illness and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse and (2) the identification of professional resources to help students in a crisis. This legislation acknowledges the difficult realities that many students face in their daily lives. Because children spend so much of their lives in school, school personnel are often some of the first adults who may be able to observe issues, it is imperative that these adults have the skills and knowledge necessary to respond appropriately to children so that school can remain a place where children feel safe and supported, especially in times of crisis.

Updates:

February 24th – A hearing was held in the House Ways and Means Committee.

March 9th – The Ways and Means Committee reported Favorably with Amendments and the matter was sent to the House floor.

March 14th – The bill was passed unanimously by the House, 139-0.  The bill will now move to the Senate for review. A hearing in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee will be held on March 29th.

April 10th– After making it’s way through the Senate, the bill returned passed to he House in the final hours of session!

HB978/SB871 – Education – Accountability – Consolidated State Plan and Support and Improvement Plans (Protect Our Schools Act of 2017)- PASSED!

This legislation seeks to guide MSDE’s drafting of the State’s consolidated state plan required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by specifying the parameters for school quality indicators, comprehensive support and improvement plans, and targeted support and improvement plans, and prohibits specified interventions. We learned from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that test scores alone cannot provide an accurate reflection of school quality.  ACY supports the guidance provided in this bill because it ensures that the State Plan submitted by MSDE reflects the importance of non-academic indicators, such as chronic absenteeism, school discipline data, class size, availability of advanced placement courses and career and technology education programs, and among others, in judging school quality an and is a positive step toward improving educational experiences and outcomes for Maryland students.

Updates:

HB978

March 6th – The House Ways and Means Committee issued a Favorable with Amendments report on the bill, sending it the House Floor.

March 10th – The House passed the bill by a vote of 91-46.

March 28th – After receiving a Favorable With Amendments Report from the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, a lengthy debate was held on the Senate floor, ending with a 32-15 vote in favor of the bill.  The House concurred with the amendments from the Senate and the bill was marked “passed enrolled,” and sent to the Governor!  Though the has vowed to veto this measure, the state constitution gives him just 6 days (excluding Sunday) to exercise that option; which would potentially offer enough time for the legislature to override the Governor’s veto.  The clock is ticking!

April 6th–  On April 5th, as expected, the Governor vetoed the bill, but both houses overrode the veto and the measure will be enacted!

SB871

March 8th – A hearing was held in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

March 29th –  The Senate version passed on the Senate floor today, but because it did not beat the “crossover” deadline on March 20th, it will go the House Rules Committee, but it need not move forward since the House bill has already been sent to the Governor.