Opinion: Why Everyone Should Care About the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

Blueprint
File photo

As Maryland’s delegates and senators settle in for the 2021 legislative session, we should all be urging them to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. The future of public education and the well-being of students across the state hang in the balance.

I struggled with a learning disability when I was in school. Although I am not a parent or teacher, this experience is why I can strongly attest to the importance of high-quality public school education. This is why I have devoted my career to work for education-focused nonprofit organizations. I have met many young people in our state, and I have seen what they are up against.

This is why I have advocated for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and the Kirwan Commission for the past three years. I believe it’s our duty as adults to stand up for young people, for their right to a world-class education, and do everything we can to ensure that they can have the brightest future imaginable.

Even before the pandemic, 58% of schools in Maryland were located in areas of concentrated poverty, and students’ needs were not being met. In May 2020, Gov. Hogan vetoed the Blueprint legislation, denying a fully funded education for all students in Maryland. This cannot stand.

All students deserve a world-class education; not just students whose parents have money. All students. Let’s not miss out on the chance to have a better, more educated Maryland. These young people are the future workers of Maryland, the future taxpayers, and the future entertainers, lawyers, doctors and lawmakers. All of these professions directly affect you, your life. Why would a state deprive itself of an educated future workforce?

It is impossible to provide a world-class education without fully supporting teachers. We should have better-supported teachers, social workers, special educators and administration who don’t have to worry about heat and air conditioning not working, or mice running through the halls, or lack of soap in the bathrooms.

If we expect our teachers to work extra hours to plan lessons, expect them to use their own salary to buy supplies, and on top of that somehow reach every student in their 40-student class with the individual attention and education they all need to thrive, then we are setting them up to fail.

Once I saw it written on a bathroom wall in a school that “teachers create all other professions.” This should not be just written on a bathroom wall. We should be shouting this from the rooftops by fully funding schools.

Lastly, our state cannot afford to deprive young people of a world-class education. A report by Georgetown University’s public policy institute and the Center on Education in the Workforce projected that given the trajectory of education in Maryland, by 2020 two of every three jobs in Maryland would require more than a high school diploma.

We are heading toward a future for our state where there are not enough humans with high enough education and skill sets to qualify for the jobs we need people to do. How can we care for the future of our state when Maryland schools are underfunded by $2.9 billion annually? We know that the needs of students are not being met, and we know that we will all pay the price as a consequence.

Everyone should care about this, whether they’re teachers or parents or not. All Marylanders have a stake in the educational future of our state’s children. Better education means a better economy. Better education means future adults will be better positioned financially to give back to the state either by way of their career paths or through investing in the economy. A better-educated Maryland leads to better outcomes in almost every area.

I will spend the coming weeks calling upon my elected representatives to do the right thing and overturn the gubernatorial veto. I hope everyone who reads this will do the same. Help all of us move forward into 2021 with as much hope as possible.

— MARIA C. GOODSON

The writer is a resident of Baltimore.