As prepared for delivery
President DeGraffenreidt, Dr. Lowery, Members of the Board,… thanks very much for the opportunity to join you.
A special word of thanks to Bernie Sadusky. Bernie kept our educational enterprise moving forward during our search of a new superintendent – and for that we are very grateful.
Today is a happy occasion. It is happy because we have the opportunity to welcome Dr. Lowery to Maryland. We are very fortunate to have someone of Dr. Lowery’s leadership and experience on board.
It is also happy because yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education named as “Green Ribbon Schools” Dunloggin Middle School in Ellicott City, Francis Scott Key Middle School in Silver Spring, Folger McKinsey Elementary School in Severna Park, and the Lucy School in Middletown.
Only 78 schools across the United States were recognized with these awards and four of them are in Maryland. What are Green Ribbon Schools? They are schools recognized for their work creating “green environments” by working to reduce environmental impacts, promote health, and teach environmental and outdoor education.
So today is a happy occasion, but it’s also an occasion to remember that progress is not inevitable; it is the product of the good choices we make together.
The unfinished 2013 budget deliberations continue to threaten our forward progress with big cuts to education.
On the capital side, we were able to secure the second-largest investment in school construction ever in our State’s history. On the legislative side, I signed MOE reform that will protect the investments we make together in public education. But on the operating side, we still have some work to do if we’re going to be able to protect and exceed our progress.
To be able to be named #1 for four years is a row – that’s never happened before, and it’s a very, very big deal. All of us will have a role to play in making sure we do not jeopardize all that we’ve been able to achieve for our kids and the future they deserve.
In a State united by our belief in the dignity of every individual,… in a State united by our understanding that there is no such thing as a spare Marylander or spare American,… in a State in which our top priorities are creating and saving jobs,… in a State ever seeking to expand opportunity to more of its people rather than fewer,… there is no progress without public education.
Priorities: Things We’ve Done Well
When we met in 2009, we laid out seven strategies for both protecting the progress we’ve made together, … and for moving toward our goal of building the best public school system in the world.
In some of these areas, we’ve done exceptionally well. In others, we’re still working toward that breakthrough. Running through them:
First, was to work with the Obama Administration to secure federal investment in Maryland’s public schools. Thank you all for everything you did to allow us to compete and win Race to the Top and with it $250 million for our K-12 public schools, and an additional $50 million for early childhood education.
We’ve set the goal of increasing the number of STEM college graduates 40% by 2015. Today, we are more than half way there at 21%. But we won’t get to 40% by running in place or taking our foot off the gas. There is still more work to do, but we’ve been moving our graphs in the right direction.
We’ve been making steady progress moving forward with STEMnet. We’re also moving forward on Project Lead the Way – enrolling 11,000 students versus the 2,500 who were enrolled back in 2006. That’s a graph moving in the right direction.
Connected to all these areas is AP participation and success. Our students are taking 28% more AP exams in the STEM disciplines. And according to the College Board, our students rank #1 in America in AP success and #2 in overall participation.
To advance STEM, to make it more real for students – and to give students new tools to succeed in a changing world – we asked you in 2009 to add an environmental literacy and financial literacy requirement. Thank you for acting on both.
There is new evidence which suggests that our technical skills in the STEM disciplines are bolstered by the critical thinking skills we learn from things like art and music. Art and music also help students in so many other ways – engaging them in school, building self-confidence, bolstering achievement in the classroom.
Therefore, as seek to move forward on STEM, we will also look for new ways to move forward on arts and music education.
As we said in 2009, “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.”
Today, we have adopted the Common Core curriculum, and we are transitioning to new assessments which will allow us to benchmark our students’ achievement with students around our country and around the world.
We called for the creation of a single, continual, longitudinal data system that follows students as they move from elementary school, through secondary education, and finally into higher education. There has been a tremendous amount of good work and progress made to create this longitudinal system. In fact, we’ve moved from being at the back of the pack to the front, thanks to Chairman DeGraffenreidt and Britt Kirwin’s collaborative focus. By the end of the year, we plan to make data available to parents, students, and educators online.
Student achievement and readiness. As you know, we’ve set an enterprise-wide goal of improving student achievement and school, college, career, and readiness 25% by 2015. We’re able to report today that we are moving our graphs in the right direction. To give you an example: we’ve been able to achieve a 21% increase in 8th grade reading scores and nearly a 17% 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.
We’ve also increased by 28% the proportion of children entering kindergarten to learn.
Priorities: Areas Where We Need Improvement
While we have made significant progress on five of the seven priorities we laid out in 2009, we are yet to break through on these next two:
Principals: Principals are teacher magnets. I’ve never known a troubled school that was turned around without a great principal leading the effort.
When we won Race to the Top, we were afforded federal funding to train principals to turn around low performing schools. We were also awarded funding to train educators from every school in our State on the common core curricula. Why do I mention both these things? Because while we have succeeded on Common Core training, we’re yet to launch the same sort of effort on principals. Let’s agree to make 2012 the year we move forward,…
Career and Technology Education, CTE. A recent study found that 38% of bioscience jobs in Maryland could be filled by individuals with less than an Associate’s Degree if they had the proper training. CTE is another way of saying opportunity. It’s been our priority these last five years. And yet, last school year we graduated fewer CTE high school graduates than we did in 2008. What’s more, fewer of our CTE graduates earned industry credentials than in 2008. While the numbers are up slightly from the year before, we have some work to do just to make up the ground we’ve lost.
There is one final area I want to mention today, where we are coming up short of where we should be – and that’s with closing our achievement gaps. Working together, we’ve been able to cut in half the achievement gaps in elementary math and reading, and in middle school reading. But cutting these gaps in half is not good enough. And while our African American high school students achieved the third highest AP success rate in the nation last year, we still can do better – and we owe it to our kids to do better. Ultimately, closing our achievement gaps represents our greatest opportunity for continued progress.
Maryland’s Economy is an Innovation Economy – and in an innovation economy our greatest assets are skills, creativity, ingenuity and education of our people. Thanks for all that you do – I look forward to working with you in the years ahead.