Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony G. Brown on Tuesday released a plan to address educational disparities within the state that includes the establishment of an office devoted soley to closing racial and income gaps in student achievement.
Brown’s promised Governor’s Office of Educational Disparities and Opportunities was part of a 10-point plan on a subject that has drawn attention from all three major Democratic contenders this year.
Brown, the state’s lieutenant governor, said his initiatives would help ensure that “no matter where you live, no matter who you are or what your parents do for a living, you will get the education and skills you need to succeed.”
Other initiatives put forward by Brown on Tuesday include the implementation of a “universal” pre-kindergarten program he has previously proposed; the expansion of in-school breakfast programs; the establishment of a minority teacher scholarship fund; and the expansion of “wrap-around” community-based programs.
Though Maryland has built one of the best school systems in the country, “unacceptable” gaps remain in student achievement, Brown said.
He cited a series of gaps based on income and race, including numbers showing that African-American and Latino students are two-and-a-half and three times, respectively, more likely to drop out of high school than white students.
Brown faces Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) in the June primary.
Gansler has called the racial achievement gap in Maryland “the moral stain of our state.” Both he and Mizeur have issued plans to address it that include expansion of pre-K offerings and other initiatives.
Mizeur emphasizes better access to child care and expansion of after-school programs. Gansler has proposed grants to encourage schools to develop programs for families facing language barriers, as well as a new volunteer program to assist pre-K families.
The cost of Brown’s new initiatives would start at $7.2 million during his first year in office and grow to $13.6 million by fiscal year 2019, his campaign said. Those figures do not include the cost of the pre-K expansion.