Jack Barham

Republicans on the National Level have recently cut $10 billion from K-12 and higher public education programs, initiated proposals to undo civil right protections, and have set priorities that align with schools organized for profit. Clear signs of non-support for our public schools.

That is what Trump’s appointed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has done in her brief time in that position. She clearly demonstrated, during her hearing before congress, a lack of experience to fill the position and her bias for private school funding.

Governor Hogan jumped on the Republican band-wagon to support private and parochial schools soon after taking office. Unfortunately, the 2016 Maryland legislature gave him $5 million dollars for his student voucher program known as BOOST. While he had not addressed the $2.9 billion increase needed in public school funding for each year.

So what was the first thing he did? He ran to Baltimore to visit one of the Jewish Day Schools to brag about his accomplishment. To please the crown in attendance he said he would request $10 million in 2017. Some 600 students and advocates of student voucher support for private and religious schools cheered him on. Among them was a Rabbi who has been a part of a group that has been working for years through the state legislature to provide relief for the day school community.

At another gathering at Lawyers Mall in Annapolis on Nonpublic School Advocacy Day, Hogan appeared on the steps of the Maryland State House greeted by 1,000 students and their chaperones from 12 Maryland Counties and Baltimore City cheering his BOOST program. The advocates claim they are working to support “broadening options and opportunities for students.”

But, what are the real reasons? The Rabbi in Baltimore said the advocacy group was working to support programs, “… that would provide some relief to the tuition-weary day school community.” A teacher in a Catholic school in Ridge, Maryland told the University of Maryland Capital News Service, “We wouldn’t be open if we didn’t have BOOST money.”

BOOST supporters say the program helps many students because of larger class sizes in the public schools, but the Maryland ACLU and the teachers union have reported seventy-eight percent of the students who received vouchers were already enrolled in private and religious schools in Maryland.

A principal of a Catholic school in Olney, Maryland stated, “The BOOST
scholarship helps students receive free and reduced-price lunches.”  Someone
should tell that principal in order to qualify for a voucher the student must first
be eligible for free and reduced price meals. That same principal said,“We have
12 families that get a scholarship that helps them with their tuition.”

At the rally in Annapolis, Hogan said that he will continue to fight for the program
that was unanimously approved last year in the Maryland Senate. Opponents of
the BOOST program argued that it takes away taxpayers money from public
schools to subsidize private school tuition.

Betty Weller, Maryland State Education Association President said,
“…Evidence shows that they used the program to support students
that are already in their school for every child they accepted from a public
school,” According to the ACLU and teachers union ninety-seven percent of schools that
have received subsidies are religious.

Opponents are also concerned that private and religious schools do not have to meet the nondiscrimination laws set in place for public schools. They suggest this allows private schools to legally discriminate in employment based on religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Tishan Weerasooriya, an ACLU of Maryland Public Policy Advocate, said at a press conference. “This is a cause of our great concern because using taxpayers dollars to fund religious institutions only entangles state governments with religious teachings.”

The Maryland Association of Boards of Education has continued to oppose this program.  They see it as an unwarranted expansion of public funding to private and parochial education. They point out the vast majority of nonpublic school programs are not linked to state or federal student performance accountability measures, or special education provision.

During this current 2018 legislative session, MABE has gone on record opposing Senate Bill 185/House Bill 160 to fund the BOOST program. They have requested the elimination of the $8.85 million in funding proposed for the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) private school voucher program.


"Taxpayers, parents, teachers and especially students have a right to expect, and they deserve, more accountability," Hogan said at a news conference to announce education bills he plans to propose during the 2018 legislative session. Ovetta Wiggins and Donna St. George report in the Post that Hogan said he also will submit a bill to change the schools accountability plan the General Assembly approved over his objections last year, reviving an issue that resulted in a veto override.

Gov. Hogan promised an emergency $2.5 million for repairs to Baltimore City Schools' troubled heating systems yesterday. And he blamed the problems on mismanagement. Meanwhile, at least eight Baltimore City schools were closed Monday because of continuing problems with the heating systems and a water main break, Dominique Maria Bonessi and Rachel Baye report for WYPR-FM.



Maryland Politics

Hogan’s deep popularity in Md. weakens when voters consider 2018, Post poll findsBy Scott Clement and Fenit Nirappil March 22
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan enters the House chamber before delivering his third State of the State address in Annapolis on Feb. 1. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s stratospheric approval rating has slipped in a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll for the first time since the Republican took office, while voter skepticism of President Trump and his party threatens to complicate the governor’s bid for reelection next year.

Hogan holds a 65 percent job-approval rating, down from a high of 71 percent last September, but still above the highest mark in Post polls for each of the state’s three previous governors.

Yet Hogan’s support for reelection lags far behind his approval rating, with 41 percent of registered voters saying they would support him for a second term and 37 percent preferring a Democrat.

The margin has narrowed since September, when Hogan held a 46 to 30 percent edge over a generic Democrat. No Democratic candidate has entered the 2018 race so far, though several have said they are considering it.

[Read full poll results | How it was conducted]