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Hogan: Objections to post-Labor Day school start are 'silly, trivial, stupid'

Gov. Larry Hogan made the annoucement at a press conference Wednesday afternoon on Ocean City's boardwalk.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan defended his executive order mandating Maryland schools start after Labor Day, characterizing objections as "silly, trivial, stupid" concerns that had already been addressed by a state task force.

Hogan, asked about the controversial order at a Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce event, said that it a controversy "is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard in my life."

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"There really is almost no controversy. There is a handful of vocal people who want to ignore the law, and the overwhelming majority of Marylanders, everywhere I go, teachers say to me, they love it, everywhere we go," Hogan said.

The governor addressed the policy decision of starting school after the holiday without discussing the way he enacted it — issuing an executive order that Democratic leaders called an overreach of power.

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Hogan pointed to public polls that found widespread support for the policy and said the General Assembly "refused" to enact it for two years despite the recommendation of a commission state lawmakers formed to study the issue. That commission included educators, and it voted 12-3 to recommend pushing back the start date of Maryland schools until after the traditional end of summer. Then-Gov. Martin O'Malley endorsed the idea.

"They can criticize, and you can write a hundred stories and editorials," he said. "You can have whiny people on school boards. It's not going to change the fact this is what's going to happen in the state, and it's what everybody wants. That's just the way it is."

The governor said the arguments raised now by critics — which include several large school systems and a state school board member he appointed — had already been addressed by that commission.

"The commission studied it for like over a year," Hogan said. "They answered every one of these silly, trivial, stupid things that are now being mentioned by the handful of people that oppose this. And they answered all the questions. They said it doesn't do anything to education."

Hogan also rebuked an editorial by The Baltimore Sun that warned about the educational impacts of restricting the school calendar from Labor Day to June 15. Hogan said his plan still allowed for 180 days of instruction — the minimum required under state law.

"They're still getting educated for 180 days," he said. "How the hell does that make any difference?"

Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot, a longtime proponent of the policy and a Hogan ally, said he "felt badly" the governor was taking criticism for enacting an order that Franchot had requested.

"I am frustrated by the critics who are working overtime to make him look bad," Franchot said. "Really, what is that all about?"

The comptroller said he asked Hogan to issue the executive order after unsuccessfully asking the Democrat-dominated legislature to pass a new law.

"I took this, year after year, to the legislature," Franchot said. "They humiliated me. They played it up as Franchot's folly."

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