Photo by Kristen Mosbrucker/WYPR.

It’s been years in the works. Countless hours of meetings. Days worth of impassioned testimony. Late night community listening sessions. Thousands of people using their voices to all ask for one plan, one path forward.

Everyone in the room has been trying to do one really difficult but worthwhile thing. Improve the quality of education for the average student in Maryland.

Some know the giant, often unwieldy concept as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, others may remember the Kirwan Commission or even the esoteric mouthful of the Accountability and Implementation Board.

Here’s what it is. What it does. But most importantly, what this means for students in classrooms trying in earnest to learn despite all the world’s challenges.

In February 2021, the state of Maryland created the Accountability and Implementation Board. The goal was to develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. In December 2022, the state board finalized the plan. This board is responsible for guiding local school systems through the policies and ensuring that all aspects of the $3.8 billion law are achieved.

For casual readers, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is 200 pages long. The plan is supposed to be complete by 2032.

For the average Baltimore City Public School student in kindergarten this year, they will be in high school by the time the program is finished.

Advocates say while it’s a long-term plan for systemic decades-long issues, the wait will be worth it for future generations.

“I’m really grateful that our state has passed legislation to lift up education as a priority in our state,” said Roger Schulman, President and CEO of The Fund for Educational Excellence, Baltimore City Public School’s education fund. “I think it is one of the boldest pieces of education, if not the boldest piece of legislation I’ve seen across the country in a very long time.”

What is The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future? 

In 2020, the Maryland General Assembly, the state’s legislative arm passed The Blueprint For Maryland’s Future as sweeping education policy with a $3.8 billion price tag attached. Then-Gov. Larry Hogan balked and vetoed the legislation.

In 2021, state lawmakers overrode the governor’s decision and The Blueprint For Maryland’s Future became law of the land.

The sweeping education policy is based on the recommendations made by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education often called the Kirwan Commission after its chair, Brit Kirwan, former professor and Chancellor of the University System of Maryland. This is why some people refer to the Blueprint as simply Kirwan.

The Blueprint has five policy areas known as pillars: 

  • Early Childhood Education
  • High-Quality and Diverse Teachers and Leaders
  • College and Career Readiness
  • More Resources for Students to be Successful
  • Governance and Accountability

The goal of the law is to create a world-class education system in Maryland by setting standards and investing additional money in public education systems each year.
How much money will go to each school district and how will it be spent

The state has committed to investing $3.8 million in education over the course of 10 years. While the funding is prepared to help improve the quality of education, it will be used to expand programs and resources not for building repairs or maintenance such as new HVAC systems.

Melissa Lembo Whisted Blueprint Coordinator and executive director of Academic Services for Baltimore County Public Schools, said the exact amount her district will receive is unclear, because of the per-pupil funding model.

“The dollars follow the children, so it goes to the school. So certain schools that receive this concentration of poverty grant because they have a large number of students that would qualify for the funding formula,” Lembo Whisted said.

Read more (and listen) at WYPR.

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