Last Thursday the Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the Protect Our Schools Act, a bill that would create a formula to judge the quality of public schools, minimizing the importance of test scores and emphasizing alternative quality indicators.
The Republican governor vetoed the bill last Thursday with strong opposition to the legislation’s intentions, claiming it would make Maryland schools some of the least accountable in the country. The veto was overridden by a house vote of 90-50 and a senate vote of 32-15.
Hogan worries that the bill will disable the Maryland Board of Education from being able to intervene and improve these failing schools. The governor claimed that the passage of this bill will minimize focus on tested academic achievement among students. The Maryland Board of Education, a 12-person board appointed by the governor, agrees with Hogan in their opposition of the bill.
Supporters of this new legislation include the Maryland PTA, the NAACP, and Disability Rights Maryland. The bill was intended to improve the public school system by addressing factors other than test scores when judging a school’s capability, according to State Delegate Eric Leudtke, a sponsor of the bill. The bill was in part a response to the public outcry against the overemphasis of standardized tests in public schools.
“Tests matter. They should be part of how we measure schools. But other things matter too, like prevention of chronic absenteeism, access to high quality teachers, and access to AP and IB courses.” said Leudtke.
The Protect Our Schools Act was a response to the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act, signed by President Obama in 2015. ESSA was meant to right the wrongs of the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act by returning some of the responsibility in determining a school’s quality to the states. Additionally, the bill is a measure taken in order to protect Maryland from President Trump’s and Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’ belief that failing schools can be saved through privatization.
“Privatizing public schools will not solve the challenges of American education. It simply won’t. In fact, it will simply reinforce the inequities in our society and exacerbate achievement gaps,” said Leudtke.
Hogan responded to the Assembly’s override of his veto in a Facebook post Thursday.
“This will long be remembered as a low point in Maryland’s legislative history,” posted Hogan.