Remarks by Governor Martin O’Malley
At Education Week’s Quality Counts 2012 Conference
As Prepared for Delivery
It’s great to be here. We LOVE Education Week magazine in the State of Maryland.
First, let me thank you for the work that you do on behalf of public education, the single, most important ingredient in job creation and opportunity.
Secondly, on behalf of the people of our State, thank you for recognizing the achievements of the students, parents, teachers, principals, administrators, advocates, elected representatives,… and, yes, the citizens of our State who understand that The investments we make in education are investments in the future we all share
I want to briefly share with you a few of these choices we’re making in Maryland which have helped us attain this #1 ranking each of these past four years,… as well as some of the reasons why we have made these choices.
IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION IN EVERY PART OF OUR STATE
From the earliest days of our Administration, job creation – and it’s primary ingredient, education – have topped our agenda. When we first ran for Governor in 2006, we offered the people of Maryland a ten-part plan. Point #1, was that we will make our government work. Point #2 was that we will make government work. Point #3 was that we will make government work. And point #4 was intrinsically connected: “We will invest in school construction to get our children out of trailers. And we will invest in K-12 education to reduce class sizes and improve public schools.”
To make government work for public education:
1. We’ve made record investments in K-12 public schools – even during recessionary times, when we cut record amounts of spending from virtually every other priority.
2. In tandem with record investments in operating funding, we invested a record $1.5 billion in school construction to move our students out of temporary learning shacks and into modern classrooms.
Earlier this week, I visited Germantown Elementary in Annapolis. Back in 2005 I saw firsthand the temporary learning shacks in back of an aging, antiquated, woefully undersized school building. Today, because of these record investments, students have the benefit of a brand new school building which is 59% larger. To see Smart Boards in every classroom, to see state-of-the-art science and computer labs, to see handheld quiz machines that calculate instant assessment results – it really says a lot about what these investments mean, not just to a child’s future, but to our State’s future.
In 2010, we proposed investing $250 million in school construction every year for the next four. This year, we’re asking our General Assembly to do $100 million better – with a $373 million investment which would support 11,650 jobs.
3. Because our students will someday be competing for jobs against workers from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, we are resolved to set expectations in the classroom that are every bit as high, if not higher, that peoples in places like Finland and Singapore set for their students. So we’ve adopted the Common Core curriculum. We’ve set up Educator Effectiveness Academies to train teachers and principals from every school in our State to teach this new curricula. And we’re developing new assessments which benchmark our student’s progress, not just against students from other states, but other countries.
4. We believe that by adopting the Common Core Curriculum, we will be able to move closer to the big goal we’ve set of improving student achievement and school, college, career and readiness 25% by 2015. So far, to give you an example of our progress, we’ve been able to achieve a 21% increase in 8th grade reading scores and nearly a 16% increase in math scores. We’ve brought together stakeholders from education, labor, industry, and –government – to help us as we continue to work toward exceeding this 25% goal.
5. We’ve put a statewide priority on STEM education. Our goal is to increase the number of STEM college graduates in our State 40% by 2015. So far, we’re more than half way there at 22%,… and we continue to forge ahead. I thought I’d share with you just a few of our strategies.
Through a new STEM Innovation Network, or STEMnet, we are bringing together the business community, educators, government, higher education, non-profits and other stakeholders. Through the network, we are setting up STEM teachers with mentors – practicing professionals in the industry who are able to give teachers a better sense of the latest trends and developments within their fields. Part of the magic, is that this allows our teachers to have a background in the STEM clusters where our businesses are strongest – areas like bioscience, cyber security, and green technology,… We’re also giving educators online access to STEM curricula, lessons plans, webinars, tutorials, classroom-ready experiments and professional development.
On another front, in partnership with the Obama Administration and the National Math and Science Initiative we’re replicating the University of Texas’s “UTeach” initiative, which allows teaching students to cross apply credits from education classes and classes in the STEM disciplines – therefore graduating more future teachers who have backgrounds in these subjects.
We are also partnering with Project Lead the Way, a national non-profit that has developed a STEM curriculum which emphasizes hands-on experiential learning. The idea here is to make sure that students graduate high school with the tools they need to succeed in college-level STEM coursework. Twenty of our school systems have put these curricula in place. So far we’ve enrolled just under 11,000 students. In 2006, we were only at 2,500, so our graphs are moving in the right direction.
6. Recognizing that one of the things that differentiates Maryland from other states is the strength of our diversity, in Prince George’s County we’re partnering with the University System, Prince George’s Community College, Bowie State University, and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute on an initiative to recruit more minority STEM students. As a part of this initiative, we will give hundreds of county high school students the opportunity to take college-level science courses. The initiative will also give 100 college students the opportunity to teach in local schools.
7. We’re ramping up Career and Technology Education, which is so important for those of our students who will be entering the workforce sooner rather than later. 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.
WHY INVEST IN EDUCATION
Why make public education such a high priority? Why choose to increase investments for public education while making cuts to virtually every other priority? Three words: jobs and opportunity.
Our economy in Maryland is an Innovation Economy.
Job creation in an Innovation Economy, requires leveraging our most important asset: the talents, skills, ingenuity and creativity of our people.
Opportunity in an Innovation Economy, depends on our ability to give our people the skills they need to compete.
H.G. Wells wrote that “human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
We are going through a period of profound economic change. The changing global economy is growing more knowledge-based, more information-based, more innovation based, and more interconnected by the day.
And yet, thirty years ago – when I graduated from high school – the United States ranked #1 in high school graduation rates among our global competitors. Today we’ve slipped to 11th,… Thirty years ago, America ranked #1 in college completion. Today we’ve slipped to #12,…
When it comes to STEM education, it gets even more troubling. In the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s most recent international survey of student performance, American students ranked 16th in science – and that’s out of 34 countries. A decade ago they we were 12th. In math, we’ve slipped from 15th to 24th.
Friends, it’s not what other countries are doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing for ourselves.
For the last decade we’ve been severely under-capitalizing the idea of America. We have been under-investing in that common platform of job creation and opportunity expansion called the United States. No one else is going make these national economic investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure for us.
There are some challenges so large that we can only hope to tackle them together. Educating our children, creating jobs, spurring innovation in how we feed, fuel, and heal our people, expanding opportunity in this fast-changing new economy, improving public safety, making college more affordable, rebuilding a 21st century transportation and cyber infrastructure, eradicating child poverty,… these things won’t happen by themselves.
In this changing new economy, there will be winners and losers. To win, we have to recommit ourselves as a country to public education. And that’s why Education Week magazine matters. Thank you very much.
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