By John Queen
The writer is a community leader and organizer with experience working at the grassroots level across Maryland. He seeks to magnify the voices of others, personally and through his work leading Bayside H.O.Y.A.S and as a Kent County Team Leader with Strong Schools Maryland.
Lately, a variety of media, political stories and community members have been spreading misinformation about the multi-billion-dollar law known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. It is unacceptable and displays poor leadership for elected officials to misinform the public, intentionally or otherwise, about state law. As a community leader and president of Bayside H.O.Y.A.S., Inc. (Helping Our Youth Achieve Success), I have worked with multiple public school systems across the state of Maryland for 10-plus years and would like to shed light on the advantages offered by the Blueprint that our communities can take advantage of:
- The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is the state fulfilling its responsibility to fully fund our schools. As a community leader in a rural area, I’ll admit I had my doubts about the reliability of this new funding. But the Blueprint has come through: this year, Kent County Public Schools got an extra $1.8 million from the state for the Blueprint; next year we’ll get an addition $1.9 million;
- The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future starts early, which is the best time to invest in education. The law ensures a pre-K seat for every 4-year-old in the state and every 3-year-old with specific needs, while increasing resources for families with young children;
- The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future recognizes that great schools require great teachers and great teachers require great pay. The law increases the statewide starting salary for teachers to at least $60,000 a year;
- The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future creates college and career pathways for students to choose from, including agricultural sciences and technical education. This will support our local economy by increasing the earning potential of families from low and middle socioeconomic statuses;
- The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future brings our communities together. It creates Community Schools, which support student achievement by connecting community resources to our students, schools, and families. This can include support with housing, food access, after school learning; and
- The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is yours. It can only be successful if we the community are invested and actively hold our elected officials accountable. Through Strong Schools Maryland, you can collaborate with other community members and advocate to state and local leaders to make Blueprint the best it can be for your schools.
This is the moment. The opportunity for elected officials across the state to regain the trust of their community members — students, families, and educators. As a community leader, I agree with the intent of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future — it is another opportunity to continue Helping Our Youth Achieve Success.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this commentary included portions written by a co-author. It has been re-posted to reflect the author’s views.