William E. "Brit" Kirwan, chair of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, explains the Kirwan Commissions recommendations for Maryland's public schools. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)

There are many citizens in Howard County rightfully engrossed in the great redistricting debate right now, but there is another debate occurring on the state level and unfolding over the next nine months that deserves our attention as well. This last legislative session, thanks to the great advocacy of our elected leaders, the state adopted the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation (“As Hogan digs in his heels against Kirwan school funding, the Maryland legislature needs to lead,” Aug. 19). This upcoming school year, Howard County is slated to receive additional funding from the first installment of money from this legislation for special education services, pre-K, mental health workers, and for struggling learners. Additional funding in years to come would address poverty, English language learners, college and career readiness, and strengthening our governance and accountability mechanisms.

This next session will turn on enacting and funding this plan. The blueprint was designed to make Maryland competitive internationally and to bring Maryland schools back to the top of the list of high-achieving school systems in our nation. Without the full implementation, we will continue to lag behind other states and nations, threatening the competitiveness of our students and our economy. There may be some who balk at the costs associated with the plan created by the Kirwan Commission. To those I say, education is a vaccine against poverty. It is the vaccine against drug abuse. It is the vaccine against crime. And it is the vaccine for a healthy and vibrant community.

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We can pay now or we can pay later. Please join me in support of Strong Schools Maryland, a non-partisan state-wide group working to ensure education and education funding is our top priority by going to strongschoolsmaryland.org.

Marijane Monck, Columbia

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