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Gov. Martin O'Malley says Maryland is not behind

We wrote in Saturday's paper about the fact that Maryland appears to be lagging behind other progressive states in positioning itself to be competitive in the race to get a portion of $4 billion in federal funds. Education advocates around the state have questioned why Maryland has not been more proactive in talking about the competition for dollars that the Obama administration is saying could start a revolution in education.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan would like, for instance, to have every state have a data system that has the capacity to say how much progress a student has made in the past year of school. This involves being able to look at the test scores from one year to the next and draw conclusions. The "growth" a student makes, Duncan says, should be part of a teacher's annual evaluation. I am not aware of any school system currently creating this link between test scores and teacher evaluations and it is a concept that is deeply concerning to the Maryland State Education Association, which is part of a national teachers union.

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Gov. Martin O'Malley quickly responded to the criticism this morning and Laura Smitherman's story is now up on the Web site.

Perhaps Maryland is further ahead than people believe. A first test will be whether the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hands any money to Maryland to hire a consultant to help write the application for the Race to the Top funds. Gates had chosen 15 states to give grants to earlier this fall and Maryland wasn't one of them. Observers thought that was a bad sign for the state because Gates appeared to picking the states it believed to be the most competitive. After some cries that the grants gave those states an unfair advantage, Gates opened up the process and Maryland is now applying for the money. State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said she expects to know by Dec. 1 whether Maryland will get the Gates dollars, but if the answer from Gates is no, she says she hopes to have raised private dollars.

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In Colorado, the New York Times reported, the governor had devoted $7 million to improving the state's chances of getting a piece of the $4 billion and put the lieutenant governor in charge of a public campaign. Other states have gotten legislators to pass or rescind laws that were seen to be stumbling blocks to getting the money.

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