Bills could affect public school curriculum, requirements

Two bills in the current Maryland legislative session focused on K-12 public schools in the state could affect Carroll's curriculum in upcoming years.

The first bill, Senate Bill 263, would require Maryland students to achieve a passing score on a civics test in order to graduate.


Sen. Justin Ready, R-District 5, is a co-sponsor on the bill. Schools have a lot of things they require before graduation, Ready said, and a simple civics test should be added to that. It's important for today's youth to know the information before heading out into the world, he added.

"[You] should have a basic level of civic understanding before you graduate," Ready said.

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jon O'Neal said via email that Carroll County Public Schools is tracking the bill, among others, but has not taken a specific position on them. Senate Bill 263 has come up in prior sessions though, he added.

While the Board of Education has not taken a position on the bill, O'Neal did say the board's General Legislative Position Statements oppose bills that interfere with local control of education policy and curriculum.

The other bill, which O'Neal said the school board is also following, is Senate Bill 458. The bill would allow students to fulfill their foreign language requirement with a computer programming language course.

Ready said the bill would be optional, and schools would have the ultimate decision of whether they let students swap one for the other.

"It's trying to do more to promote technology education," he added.

Del. April Rose, R-District 5, said she put the bill forward, and Ready cross filed it. The idea came to her during discussions at the Combined Education Committee meetings over the summer and during discussions about lack of room at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center, she said.

Foreign language is great, Rose said, and this bill isn't designed to take that away. But giving kids an option to take some of these technology and computer programming courses could help with those interested in aspects of the Tech Center, she said.

"I think it gives kids some really interesting options," Rose said. "It's important to give our kids as many opportunities to succeed as possible."

Maryland lawmakers aren't the only ones looking at swapping computer codes for Spanish or French classes.