A new education advocacy group, formed late last year, has pledged to lobby for charter schools, funding for pre-kindergarten education and leave time for parents attending meetings with teachers.

MarylandCAN, which is affiliated with a national coalition of school reformers called 50CAN, announced its agenda this week.

Curtis Valentine, executive director of MarylandCAN, said he was "quite optimistic about passing" a bill that would give more students access to pre-kindergarten and legislation that would allow parents to take time off from work to attend teacher-parent meetings without being penalized by their employer.

Funding for pre-kindergarten programs could potentially be funded by revenue from gaming tables if a referendum passes allowing them, Valentine said.

Both the pre-kindergarten and the parent involvement bills have been introduced before.

Maryland's charter law, which some charter law advocates view as weak, is another issue the organization wants to work on, Valentine said.

MarylandCAN is also attempting to focus attention on the achievement gap between poor and minority students and other students.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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