ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland lawmakers will be considering a plan to improve the state’s K-12 schools in their upcoming legislative session.
The entire proposal is estimated to cost about $4 billion annually a decade from now, and it would be phased in gradually over the next 10 years.
The plan is focusing on five policy areas. They include expanding early childhood education like pre-K, teachers and increased teachers’ salaries, college and career readiness, aid for struggling schools and accountability for implementing the plan. Here is a look at some of the main parts of the proposal.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The plan calls for an expansion of voluntary, full-day, prekindergarten, which would be free for all low-income 3 year olds and 4 year olds. It would provide a sliding scale for pre-K to 4 year olds from families up to 600 percent of the federal poverty line. The proposal also would expand family centers in the state that help mothers with young children with child-rearing support.
The proposal would aim to raise the teaching profession to a high-status profession. It would include more rigorous preparation programs and recommendations for higher certification standards. The annual base pay for teachers would be increased to $60,000, from an average that is now in the high $40,000s in the state. The increases would be phased in over 10 years.
COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS
The plan calls for raising the college and career ready standard and define it as being at a level that ensures a student can take an entry-level course at a community college without remediation. The plan calls for students being able to reach that level by the end of 10th grade. The proposal calls for three pathways that include early college, high-quality college preparatory programs and/or rigorous career and technical education with an apprenticeship or other workplace experience leading to an industry-recognized credential.
SUPPORT FOR STRUGGLING SCHOOLS
The proposal would steer extensive additional support for schools serving high concentrations of students living in poverty. Each school that has 55 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced lunch would become a community school that would include added social and health counselors, as well as tutors and after-school and summer academic programs. The plan includes stipulations for increased funding in schools, depending on the concentration of poverty.
An independent accountability board would oversee the 10-year implementation. The board would decide whether a school district implemented recommendations that would trigger full funding under the plan. There also would be ongoing assessments.