BALTIMORE, MD – The fifth episode of Thinking Freely, “The Time is Now to Center Race & Wealth Equity in Maryland Education (EP.05)”, kicks off with a powerful discussion at this historic moment for Maryland public education. The time is now to ensure that Maryland’s new funding formula fully addresses race and wealth equity. This month’s podcast conversation features Janna Parker, a former educator and a public education advocate, and Kimberly Humphrey, Esq., Legislative Counsel for education at the ACLU of Maryland. They talk about how decades of underfunding has led to decreased opportunities for generations of students, leaving far too many schools in horrendous conditions, and what people can do to fix the problem.
Thinking Freely is about what is happening now locally. We focus on cutting edge issues in Maryland, like last month’s episode on Maryland’s broken parole system. In this month’s episode, Amber Taylor, host and producer of Thinking Freely, and the featured guests discuss the impact that underfunding has had in Maryland, particularly on students from families with low income, and Black and Brown children.
“Maryland is the wealthiest state in the nation, but our school systems are underfunded based on areas of poverty and certain districts,” said Janna Parker. “Maryland has this constitutional statute to provide every child with a quality education regardless of where they live, how much they make, and what they look like.”
ACLU’s Kimberly Humphrey said: “We don’t want districts having to struggle and do magic tricks to do the most with the least. … You can’t manage your way out of underinvestment. We need to make sure Kirwan goes through, but with the adequate resources it needs. We don’t want to have the same conversation again in 20 years. Let’s get this right.”
An instrumental entity established to ensure that Maryland children have proper school funding is the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education or the “Kirwan Commission”. The Kirwan Commission is a body of 25 members working to rewrite Maryland’s funding formula to recommend equitable updates that make sure all students have the services they need to succeed. This commission needs to shape education policy through a race equity lens and address systematic issues in schools, such as more resources for children from families with low income, early childhood education, high quality teachers and leaders, and college and career readiness pathways.
“We need to fund upfront those who have been the most underserved,” said Kimberly Humphrey. “This is about putting every child on a level playing field. I don’t think any parent wants to see a child in a school that doesn’t have heat, as one example.”
For the first time in 17 years, Maryland has the opportunity to rewrite the funding formula with the Kirwan Commission to transform schools for our children. These intentional investments must directly fix racial and wealth inequities.
Janna Parker said: “There is this huge opportunity to essentially reimage, reinvest, and reinvigorate Maryland education on this higher level, this higher platform that will positively affect the entire state of Maryland, every student, every child regardless of where they live, what they look like, and the income of their family. We are Marylanders.”
Children in Maryland have the right to a high-quality public education as guaranteed by the state constitution. It is unacceptable that Maryland is not funding our schools adequately and equitably. The time for change is now.
Thinking Freely is cutting edge and prepared to inform Marylanders on what is happening locally in politics and giving them ways to act and become more active members in the community. In these ways, we can all advocate for a better tomorrow. Listen to this episode of Thinking Freely and learn about what we as Marylanders can do to support equitable education changes in Maryland! Listen here.