Maryland State Senate OKs Bill on Lagging Schools; Hogan Opposes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland State Senate OKs Bill on Lagging Schools; Hogan Opposes it

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- A majority of state lawmakers hope Maryland would be better able to identify and assist its struggling schools under a bill that won Senate approval Tuesday, but critics including the governor say it's flawed and could end up costing the state millions in federal aid.
    
The bill, which implements a federal law, passed 32-15 in the Senate. One Democrat and all 14 Republicans opposed the measure.
    
The House and Senate would need to work out the differences in their versions before sending the bill to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who has vowed to veto it. Both chambers, however, passed the bill with enough votes to override a veto.
    
The bill creates a formula for identifying struggling schools. Supporters say the formula takes into consideration some important factors beyond academic performance.
    
The Senate version raises the importance of academic performance from 55 percent to 65 percent. Schools also can be measured by indicators such as student attendance, safety and discipline and teacher quality.
    
Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, said he supported the bill, because it enables lawmakers to have input before a September deadline for states to submit a plan to the federal government.
    
"This is our one chance to in fact be a national leader to set up the most comprehensive set of academic standards and non-academic standards in the country to take a whole look at how schools succeed and why and which ones aren't," Madaleno said.
    
But opponents, including Hogan, say it doesn't put enough weight on academic performance and lacks strong accountability. Critics point out that the state could lose up to $250 million in federal funding, if Maryland's accountability standards are considered to be out of compliance with federal standards.
    
"It's an utter disgrace and one of the most irresponsible moves our legislature has ever made," Hogan said in a statement after the vote. "Just one day after we worked with the legislature to provide over $23 million in funding to Baltimore City schools, their own legislators just voted to potentially cost them $51 million this year alone and $250 million over five years - how can they justify that to their constituents?"
    
Critics also say the measure ties the state's hands in how to address failing schools.
    
"We have a bill that's carefully crafted to make absolutely certain failing schools cannot be fixed by the state," said Sen. Stephen Waugh, R-St. Mary's.
    
But the Maryland State Education Association, the state's teachers union that supports the bill, says it will prohibit privatization or converting low-performing public schools into charter schools. The union says the bill reserves three years for local teachers and parents to implement evidence-based improvement plans.
    
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act was approved in 2015. It allows states to decide how to use a mix of test scores, academic growth and other measures like chronic absenteeism to identify failing schools.

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