Maryland is standing on the threshold of a new era in how we educate our children. ACLU of Maryland is fighting for a full and equitable funding formula that will deliver the level of education all students need to get an excellent and free public education guaranteed by the state Constitution. 
 
Maryland’s current education funding formula (“Thornton” Commission and 2002 Bridge to Excellence law) was developed after court rulings in the ACLU’s 1994 lawsuit, Bradford v. Maryland State Board of Education, which aimed to achieve a “thorough and efficient” education for Baltimore’s children. That formula phased in funding through 2008 but was cut back in the recession, leading to an estimated $1.6 billion annual gap as of Fiscal Year 2015.
 
Expert consultants for the state, Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc. (APA), recommended in 2016 that an additional $2.9 billion was needed for Maryland school districts to be adequately funded – $1.9 billion from the state and $1 billion from local governments.
 
Legislation in 2016 established the Commission on Innovation and Excellence ("Kirwan" Commission), a 25-member body chaired by Dr. William “Brit” Kirwan, to review and update the current funding formula for Maryland schools. The Commission’s charge is to make recommendations for improving education in Maryland through funding, policies, and resources that will prepare students to “meet the challenges of a changing global economy, to meet the State’s workforce needs, to be prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce, and to be successful citizens in the 21st century.” To complete this work, the Commission utilized APA’s report and the 9 Building Blocks for a World-Class Education System by the National Center on Education and the Economy.
 
The "Kirwan" Commission released its preliminary report in January 2018 providing recommendations in five policy areas: (1) early childhood education; (2) highly qualified and diverse teachers and leaders; (3) college and career readiness pathways; (4) more resources for at-risk students; and (5) governance and accountability. Subsequently, during the 2018 legislative session, HB1415 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was passed to begin implementing programs and funding from the recommendations. The Commission will issue its final report in late 2018. 
 
ACLU will continue to provide feedback to the "Kirwan" Commission throughout the final report and will work to pass an updated, equitable formula in the 2019 legislative session. 
 
FULL & EQUITABLE FUNDING
 
The ACLU of Maryland is committed to a “thorough and efficient” education for students across the state as guaranteed by the State Constitution. Here are our priorities for a new funding formula to meet the needs of Maryland students:
 
Equity
Ensure that each school system gets the funding its children need, with the state providing a sufficient amount needed in counties/City with lower wealth. 
  • Address racial equity throughout the formula and via other reforms to erase racial inequities in achievement.
  • Ensure that the most experienced, qualified, and culturally competent teachers serve children needing the most help.
Adequacy
Ensure the new state formula provides students with the level of resources they need to meet state standards.
  • Increase the “base” amount for all children (including academic staff, tutoring, advanced programs, counselors, art, music, sports, etc).
  • Increase resources and staffing for Black and Brown children, students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and those from low-income families.
Concentrated Poverty
Increase staff and resources, such as additional academic staff, trauma-informed practices, social workers, to meet needs of children in concentrated poverty with substantial additional funding through an escalator according to the poverty level of the school. 
 
Community Schools
To address barriers to learning, provide wraparound services (health, mental health) and additional staffing, including a Community School Coordinator, for students and families. 
 
Afterschool and Summer School
Provide extended-day learning opportunities and year-round programs for students not
meeting standards and those in higher poverty schools, including enrichments – art, music, sports, theatre, etc.
 
Pre-K for all “at-risk” 3- and 4-year-olds
Provide full day pre-k funding for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds as the top priority, to be followed by expansion by family income for 4-year-olds.
 
Facilities Support
Provide additional funding above the base to operate and maintain old and deficient school buildings. Add funding so that school system debt service payments on building improvements do not take money intended for the classroom.
 
Measuring Poverty
Adopt a “proxy for poverty” using direct certification of family income with a 1.8 multiplier, as the closest match to the current Free & Reduced Meals count.

Stay informed

ACLU of Maryland is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National