Named for William “Brit” Kirwan, a former chancellor of the University System of Maryland who chaired the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, Maryland’s Kirwan educational plan has passed. Now, the major dialogue in Maryland has been focused on Kirwan 2.0 or “companion” legislation that has been sponsored by the presiding officers of the General Assembly.
Given that the bill was delayed by a year as a result of the Governor’s veto, and that Marylanders were contending with the impacts of the pandemic, this companion legislation – which passed out of the Maryland Senate on March 29 – will adjust the Bill’s timeline and address the learning challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.
The bill includes more support to address COVID-related learning loss, behavioral and mental health resources, increased access to broadband and devices to close the digital divide, and better reporting and accountability measures. Read more about the background that led to the educational commission.
On the intent of the companion legislation, Leadership for Educational Equity member and Senate President Bill Ferguson told Maryland Matters, “What we are trying to do is make sure that we target our support for the students who need it most at a time of severe social emotional stress that has been caused by this pandemic, while we bridge the digital divide that has certainly lead to disparate outcomes.”
Over the next decade, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will expand early childhood education opportunities, career and technical education for high schoolers, community schools, career opportunities for teachers and expand support to schools with high concentrations of low income students and families. LEE members Shamoyia Gardner, Joe Francaviglia, and Taylor Stewart have been pivotal leaders in ensuring the passage of this landmark legislation.
Celeste Perilla is the Director of Regional Impact of Maryland at Leadership for Educational Equity. Her work centers around building community capacity, emphasizing leadership development, and community organizing to positively impact educational experiences in and around Maryland.