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Hogan balks at education plan required by feds

Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at the West Baltimore transit center in June. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a recent event in west Baltimore. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan will not sign a state education plan required in order for Maryland to continue receiving federal education funding.

Hogan, in a letter Tuesday to Maryland State Board of Education President Andy Smarick, blamed passage of a bill he vetoed for his decision to not sign the plan.

“Unfortunately, due to the decision of the Maryland General Assembly to overturn my veto of the misleadingly-titled ‘Protect Our Schools Act,’ I cannot in good conscience sign the state plan,” Hogan wrote in a letter the governor released Thursday to reporters. “I strongly believe that this misguided legislation dramatically limited the ability of the board to include the type of educational reforms anticipated by the (Every Child Succeeds Act), and therefore, I do not believe it represents enough of a positive step forward for Maryland students.”

Each state is required to submit a plan to the federal Department of Education by Monday. It is not immediately clear if his refusal to sign the plan will affect tens of millions in federal aid.

The governor’s signature is not required and William Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, said the plan will be submitted by the Monday deadline.

Following the submission, there is a 120-day timeline for the federal government to review the plan and recommend changes and for the state to attempt to address concerns. States can also seek an extension.

Even so, Hogan’s letter to U.S. Education Sec. Betsy DeVos, however raised some concerns.

“I think he is clearly sending a message to Betsy DeVos to reject Maryland’s plan,” said Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery County and sponsor of the House version of the Protect Our Schools Act. “It puts $250 million at risk.”

“It’s clear he is doubling down on Betsy DeVos-style school reform policies, like having private corporations take over your local schools,” Leudtke said.

Hogan joined Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in refusing to sign their respective state plans.

Walker, in a message to his state education department, cited similar concerns about accountability for persistently failing schools.

Amelia Chassé, a Hogan spokeswoman, said there are concerns that the state will be unable to address federal concerns about the plan because of the Protect Our Schools Act.

“The only people jeopardizing federal education funding are the cowardly legislators who live in the back pockets of the teachers union and have refused to help kids stuck in these failing schools,” Chassé said.

Hogan, in vetoing the state Protect Our Schools Legislation, cited concerns about a loss of federal funding — nearly $250 million, according to one analysis for the legislature.

The governor, at the time of the veto, said the bill, if allowed to become law, would make it impossible to hold failing schools accountable, a position he repeated in his letter to Smarick.

Hogan wrote to Smarick that the state law “stymies any attempt to hold schools accountable for student performance and includes provisions aimed at preserving the status quo in failing schools.”

Last November, Hogan commented on a draft proposal of a plan presented by the Department of Education.

In that letter, Hogan called for the agency to adopt a plan that included an A-F grading model that would make grades easy for parents and students to understand. He also called on report cards to carry detailed information on per pupil funding and how that money is distributed between administrative and classroom functions.

Additionally, Hogan said, he wanted “timely intervention” on persistently failing schools.

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