Celebrating Read Across Maryland Month at Carney Elementary
March 12, 2009
As Prepared for Delivery
Good morning. I want to recognize County Executive Jim Smith, Assistant Superintendent Robert Tomback and everyone from MSTA for your work to make our public schools some of the best in the nation.
Thanks also to Principal Eileen Roberta and all of our teachers and administrators here at Carney Elementary. We really appreciate all the work you do. And I especially want to thank all of our students who took the time to read with us earlier as part of Read Across Maryland Month.
This effort to strengthen the reading skills of our children is a big part of our work to build upon the progress we’ve already made in our public schools – which were ranked #1 in the nation according to Education Week Magazine.
We’ve also got some of the brightest students in the nation as well – achieving the highest AP scores in the country and earning the best MSA scores in our State’s history.
Baltimore County and Carney Elementary have led the way in that aspect, and our students’ hard work is paying off with their MSA scores nearly at or above 90 percent proficient in all categories.
Now that we’ve become the #1 school system in America, we’ve got to become #1 in the world, because we believe that our economic competitiveness in the global, knowledge-based economy rests on our willingness to reach even higher.
That’s why we’re continuing to make investments in public education. Working together, this year we’re proposing a $5.5 billion state investment in our public schools – the largest in Maryland’s history.
In 3 years, we’ve increased local aid to public schools in Baltimore County by 146%. And it’s great to see a return on those investments when you look at how schools like Carney are performing.
We’re also fighting to bring our three year investment in school construction to over $1 billion, including $809,000 that we’re proposing to invest in Carney Elementary during FY 2010.
And thanks to the hard work of President Obama and our Congressional delegation, our schools are directly receiving nearly $1.1 billion over the next 27 months in federal funds for education through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
What’s more, we’re working with educators at all levels to improve our curricula in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, as well as Career and Technology Education.
In addition, we’ve asked our State school board to benchmark our students’ academic achievements not only against students in other states, but with students in Europe, Asia, Africa, and across the world.
We’re also surveying every teacher and principal in our State through our TELL Maryland survey to help us recruit and retain the very best teachers and principals.
And, recognizing that we can only expand opportunity if we are willing to invest to make college education accessible to more Maryland families, we are fighting as well to freeze in-state college tuition for the fourth year in a row.
Read Across Maryland is yet another step in the right direction – and we’re asking for the support of teachers and parents throughout our State to help us strengthen our children’s reading skills.
There’s one thing we know for sure that makes a difference in a child’s ability to achieve all through their time in elementary school, middle school, high school, college and beyond – that is their ability to read.
And perhaps the biggest influence on a child’s ability to read, aside from a quality education, is a parent. A parent taking the time out of their busy day to read to their child – sparking not only a curiosity, not only an understanding, not only an appreciation of the pictures and words in that book – but it also creates a respect and appreciation for the process and the importance of learning.
The simple act of reading to a child gives us the ability to uphold the single greatest responsibility we have, which is to pass on our knowledge to the next generation so that together, we can build a better future. It doesn’t take much, but it’s so very important to the lives of our kids.
I think the great Marylander, Frederick Douglass, said it better when he wrote that "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."
Thank you all very, very much.