Maryland, not so long ago, had one of the best public school systems in the country, and it is imperative for our children and our future that we return to that status. By passing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, we have made a concerted effort to make sure that our schools get the funding they need to help our kids achieve all of their academic goals and set them on the right path towards success. I am a strong supporter of our public schools and take immense pride in those efforts. Public school funding not only helps our students achieve their goals, but helps us as a State maintain a highly educated citizenry, our greatest economic resource. I am happy to work with my colleagues in the General Assembly to make education a priority by maximizing school funding, both operationally and through capital construction funding. This way, we can maintain the best possible learning and education facilities, staff them with the best, most experienced educators and school staff, and provide the resources that our children need to learn and thrive in a competitive economic environment.
But education is not enough. Schools serve a wider purpose that both contributes to the educational success of our children and serves as a community focal point for our communities.
That is why my focus in the next term will be:
1. Fulfilling the promise of the Blueprint by making sure it is fully paid for and working to expand it to other school support services, like mental health professionals, operational staff (cafeteria, transportation, janitorial), and making sure para-professionals get the support they need.
2. Making sure capital dollars are used effectively to build new schools, rebuild aged schools, especially those in underserved communities, and providing those schools the best technology that they need to prepare our kids for the future. This includes learning technology for their success and the latest green construction to ensure energy efficiency.
3. Working with the University System of Maryland to make sure that we are preparing more school-based mental health professionals to deal with the ever growing challenges our children are facing. No student should have to wait for a school mental health professional to get to their school from another while they are having a behavioral health crisis.
4. Making sure every student has enough to eat so that they can focus on learning and not the rumbling in their bellies, and doing so in such a way that we do not re-enforce the stigma of poverty on children because of no fault of their own.
Education also goes beyond K-12, and we have some of the best public Universities available to our graduates. Providing funding is a necessary step I fight for every year, but in addition, we need to make sure higher education is affordable as well. Working with my colleagues, I will continue to work to keep college tuition down, and work towards a future with no student loan debt. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I fought and will continue to fight for funding for facilities and resources for both Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove.