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Education advocates wearing shirts with the slogan, “Our kids can’t wait,” pack a public hearing of the Kirwan Commission in Annapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Education advocates wearing shirts with the slogan, “Our kids can’t wait,” pack a public hearing of the Kirwan Commission in Annapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 12. (Pamela Wood/Baltimore Sun)

The key to ensuring public support for the Kirwan Commission education recommendations to boost public school outcomes is not to demonize the cost of the commission’s goals nor to provide a blank check for its implementation, but to assuage taxpayers’ understandable concerns by legislatively mandating accountability measures with real teeth (“Former county executives: Maryland governor plays politics with education,” Nov. 6).

In 1998, I sponsored amendments that were adopted by the House Ways and Means Committee to require accountability for the expenditure of public school funding. Unfortunately, the Maryland State Department of Education was woefully lax and ineffective in ensuring that these accountability requirements be enforced. For oversight to be effective, the General Assembly must legislate strict accountability requirements that provide sanctions for non-compliance that include cuts in administrative salaries and withheld appropriations.

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Based on its track record for the past 20 years, the legislature should not rely on MSDE to strengthen its own accountability efforts. The legislature must act in the coming session to mandate potent accountability measurements.

John R. Leopold, Pasadena

The writer, a Republican, served as Anne Arundel County Executive from 2006 to 2013 and as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1982 to 1990 and from 1994 to 2006.

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