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Columbia

For some private schools, profit is the driving force [Letter]

This letter is in response to news coverage that Gov. Hogan refuses to sign off on Maryland’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan (“Hogan refuses to sign off on Maryland education plan,” Sept. 14, baltimoresun.com).

Gov. Hogan's signature may not be required, but by not supporting the MD ESSA plan, he is clearly propping up Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her agenda to privatize our nation's schools. He is also ignoring feedback from the very stakeholders who understand how public education works.

In developing the MD ESSA plan, the Maryland State Department of Education held numerous listening tours, conducted surveys, and received input from more than 85 focus groups. They heard from parents, educators, and civil rights advocates. They developed accountability measures to track academic achievement, academic progress, school quality, and student success from Elementary through High School. They developed a comprehensive plan for identifying schools in need of support and improvement. They developed a system for supporting schools, educators, and students in these identified schools. They address the achievement gap and highlight ways to make learning opportunities more equitable for all students. This is a very sound and well thought out plan.

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I have been a public school teacher in Maryland for over 20 years and I feel very strongly that the answer to aiding failing schools is not private school vouchers and "for profit" privatization. I worry for my students, and all Maryland students, who don't have a voice of their own.

Maryland was just awarded $5.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education to expand charter schools while our public schools budget is short $2.9 billion. What Gov. Hogan and Betsy DeVos want to see for the future of Maryland schools is "for profit" institutions that put business and profits ahead of our students. This agenda has been failing all over the country. There is no accountability for student progress or teacher quality. Our most vulnerable students will be hurt the most as private institutions can turn away anyone without question. This will devastate students from low income neighborhoods and students with special needs. Gov. Hogan should support his own state Board of Education and back the well thought out Maryland ESSA plan and put our children first.

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Michele Shrum

Fulton


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