This piece originally appeared at in the Afro

Sharnice Barnett, Director of Education and Programs, Greater Baltimore Urban League. MAREE membership includes the ACLU of Maryland, CASA de Maryland, the Greater Baltimore Urban League, The Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, Advocates for Children and Youth, Strong Schools Maryland, Faith Leaders for Excellent Schools, The Education Trust.
 
Contributors: Maritza Solanos, Director of Education, CASA de Maryland; Kimberly R. Humphrey, Esq., Legislative Counsel for Education Policy, ACLU of Maryland; Shamoyia Gardiner, Education Policy Senior Associate, Advocates for Children and Youth; Barbara Dezmon, Education Chair, Maryland State Conference NAACP.
 
Recently, the long-awaited “Kirwan” legislation was introduced, The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (“The Blueprint”) – Senate Bill 1030 and House Bill 1413, intended to “transform Maryland’s early childhood, primary, and secondary education system to the levels of high-performing systems around the world.”
 
The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, or “Kirwan Commission,” was formed to provide evidence-based recommendations in key areas of education that would create an equitable framework for outcomes. While we are thrilled to see a thoughtful initial proposal, it’s imperative that we take another look at how students of color, particularly Black and Latino students, will fare under each piece of the proposal.
 
Across all 24 jurisdictions, and across the board regardless of “subgroup,” Maryland students are failing to meet key benchmarks in core subject areas at alarming rates. Dr. Brit Kirwan himself stated that 60 percent of Maryland’s students are unable to meet College and Career Readiness standards including grade-level literacy and Algebra 1 proficiency. Additionally, students of color, particularly Black and Latino students, meet those benchmarks at lower rates, and there are dramatic racial disparities in student achievement at every income level.
 
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