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Maryland State Board of Education

Good morning and thank you for inviting me to join you.  It’s especially great to be here given all the good news which continues to roll in:

  • Working together as One Maryland we’ve earned the #1, best-in-the-nation ranking from Education Week for our public schools;
  • Working together as One Maryland, we’ve helped our elementary and middle school students achieve the highest MSA scores in Maryland’s history;
  • Working together as One Maryland, we’ve helped our high school students achieve the best AP scores in America;
  • Working together as One Maryland, we’re making steady progress toward closing our achievement gaps between white and minority students;
  • Working together as One Maryland we’ve expanded college opportunity to more and more Middle Class families, we’ve frozen tuition for three years in a row, and we’ve moved our state university system from #6th most expensive in America to #16;
  • And working together as One Maryland, we’ve earned an increase in our State’s bioscience ranking from #4 to #2 based on the strength of our workforce.

None of these accomplishments happen by accident.  They happen because of the hard work of our students, teachers and principals; they happen because of the loving and active support of parents in every part of our State.

What’s more, they happen because of the record investments we’ve made together in public education these past two years; they happen because of all day kindergarten; and they happen because of the hard work of so many who are in this room today.  Thank you all for everything you are doing to make our State stronger.

Our challenge – and our opportunity – is to protect this progress, and we all know that we’re not going to do it by running in place.  As we seek together to climb out of this national recession and establish our long-term global competitiveness, it’s my firm belief that we should strive not only to remain best in America, but to be the best in the world.

In our short time together today, I want to share some thoughts on what we can do together to help get us there.

Protecting our Progress

The mission statement of our Administration – which remains the same in every part of our State and in front of every audience, is:

  • To strengthen and grow the ranks of an upwardly mobile middle class;
  • To improve public education and public safety in every part of our State;
  • To expand opportunity to more Marylanders rather than fewer.

The investments we choose to make together in K-12 education and college affordability are essential to nearly each of these shared goals.  As you are no doubt aware, this session we are proposing the largest single investment in Maryland’s history for our public schools of $5.4 billion.  With this investment, working together we will have increased K-12 funding in our State by $932 million in just three years.

We’re also proposing to bring our three year commitment to school construction to over $1 billion.  Why?  Because we can’t have the best school system in the world if our students are being asked to learn in temporary learning shacks or prehistoric school buildings.

Furthermore, we are proposing to freeze in-state college tuition for the fourth year in a row so that we can open the doors of possibility to more of our hard-working middle class families.

Building the Best Public School System in the World

We are able to do a lot better for our kids because we finally have a partner in the White House who shares our commitment to progress – and because of the hard work of our Congressional delegation which has delivered us $721 million in education funds over the next two years.

These new federal investments will allow us, among other things, to fully fund GCEI and Thornton.  And taken in tandem with our record State investments, you will have more resources than any of your counterparts in Maryland’s history.

Governor Addresses the Maryland State Board of Education

Of course progress requires more than just dollars and cents.  As I mentioned at the beginning of our remarks, our vision is to build the best public school system in the world – and we will need your help getting there.  We have identified seven key strategic areas for moving us forward; we hope that in the coming months you’ll develop a strategic plan for implementing them.

1.   We believe that our best-in-the-nation public schools are well-positioned to win the competitive grants established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and we need your help to get us over the finish line.  To run through a few of them:

  • The Obama Administration will be offering $5 billion in “Education Incentive Grants” to spur a “Race to the Top” among the states working to enhance academic standards and achieve access to quality teachers in every school district regardless of wealth;
  • There is a $200 million “Teacher Incentive Fund” for states to implement systems that create financial incentives for teachers and principals who raise student achievement;
  • There is $100 million in “Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants” to help states improve the teacher preparation and licensing.
  • And, there is $250 million “P-16 Data Alignment” awards to for the development of statewide educational data systems that include postsecondary and workforce information.

2.   Just as our world is changing, so too are the metrics that adequately tell us how well we are progressing.  If we want our students to compete in the global economy with students from Europe, Asia, Africa, and across the world, we should benchmark their academic achievements against students from – you guessed it – Europe, Asia, Africa and elsewhere across the world.

3.   At the same time, we have an inefficiency to correct here on the home front in the ways we measure our students’ progress.  We need a single, continual, longitudinal data system that follows students’ as they move from elementary school, through secondary education, and finally into higher education.  Having separate systems for each level of school is both ineffectual and nonsensical.

4.   We need your partnership and leadership in our efforts to close the “college readiness gap;” working to ensure that our high school students graduate with the tools they need to excel in higher education. Our P-20 Council is doing important work toward this goal, and the parallel goal of preparing those of our graduates who will immediately enter the workforce with the tools and skills which fit the needs of our industry partners. But these efforts will ultimately rise or fall based on the leadership of the educational community – and we therefore need you to push forward with a strategic framework for improving college readiness.

5.   We need to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM education throughout our State. As you know, there is a growing sentiment among our industry partners that schools – not just in Maryland, but everywhere in the country – aren’t providing the STEM training necessary to grow our country’s global competitiveness in the knowledge-based economy; particularly in comparison to other countries.

By expanding STEM curricula to include financial and environmental relevancy, we can achieve several important goals.  First and foremost, by making STEM more relevant to our students’ interests and daily lives we will hopefully engage more of them in these essential disciplines.  Beyond this, if we care about preventing future foreclosure crises or recessions, I think we’d all see the inherent value of improving our students’ financial literacy.

Why do we care about environmental literacy as well?  Because our planet is not only growing smaller, it’s growing warmer.  Our ability to unlock, harness, and advance green technologies could very well prove to be the keys to our economic competiveness. That’s why we’ve set a goal of creating 100,000 new green collar jobs in Maryland by 2015; and this is why we need your help to implement environmental literacy into STEM curricula.

6.   Going hand-in-hand with STEM is Career and Technology Education, or CTE.  We know that we can put our graduates in better jobs today – and further strengthen our bioscience and high-tech sectors, if we step up CTE efforts.

As we grow as a State – and as we age as a State – we’re facing some skills gaps in several sectors of our economy for which CTE can make a significant impact.  In health care alone, we are anticipating a shortage of 10,000 nurses by 2016.  And we project that more than 7,400 health care sector positions will come open each year which could be filled by students with an Associates Degree – or in many cases a high school diploma – if we do our part to help them acquire the requisite stills and training.

And as we make the largest per-capita investment in U.S. history in our biosciences sector, our industry partners tell us of a need for more skilled workers in these fields as well.  Just how impactful could CTE be for our bioscience sector? A recent study found that 38 percent of bioscience jobs in Maryland could be filled by individuals with less than an Associate’s Degree if they had the proper training.

7.   Finally, we need your help on principal and teacher recruitment and retention.  We’ve made principals – who we believe are “teacher magnets” – a top priority for our P-20 Council, and we’re fighting to maintain our commitment to funding teacher pensions at the State level.  In addition, this month we’ve launched our TELL Maryland Teacher Survey to help us identify and fix our greatest areas in need of improvement.  But we need your help and partnership if we’re going to give our students the very best teachers and principals.

Conclusion

President Kennedy said that “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.” These words hold even more true today, as we work together to climb out of this national recession and compete in the knowledge-based economy.

Thank you once again for your hard work, for your partnership, and for your commitment to the stronger future all of us prefer for our children and for future generations.  We look forward to continuing to work with you in our shared pursuit of progress.

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