Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown on Friday proposed boosting state spending on public school construction by $160 million a year, with the majority of that to be used for new facilities that support educational offerings that prepare students for the job market.
The proposal was part of a package of initiatives offered by the Democratic gubernatorial candidate aimed at enhancing both course offerings and school settings for those interested in more hands-on skills training as part of the high-school experience.
“The way we think about education is changing, and career and technology education – once dismissed as a vocational ‘alternative’ to traditional classroom learning – is becoming an increasingly critical part of Maryland’s path towards a promising future,” Brown says in his plan.
“Whether he or she wants to be a carpenter, machinist, cosmetologist, certified nurse assistant, chef, or information technician, CTE programming is designed to develop skills that prepare students to enter the workforce.”
Brown would also dramatically increase funding for the Early College Innovation Fund, an initiative launched this year by the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
The $2 million fund is being used to forge six partnerships between public schools and community colleges to develop programs for high schools students to earn career-related college credits. Brown proposes boosting the fund to $20 million a year.
His other ideas include a new tax credit for employers who offer “experience-enhancing” internships to students ages 16 to 21 who are currently enrolled in a CTE program at a Maryland high school or community college. The credit would be worth up to $3,000 per student, with enrollment capped at 1,000 students per year.
During the O’Malley administration, spending on K-12 public school construction has averaged $340 million a year. Brown’s plan would boost that total to $500 million by 2019. The $100 million earmarked for career and technology education facilities would be distributed through a competitive grant program.
Brown said he would pay for his plans with a portion of the state’s corporate income tax and savings he says are possible in the state’s procurement system.
Brown faces a competitive Democratic primary in June against Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery).
Gansler also highlighted ideas this week to help connect high school students with career-ready skills, proposing to significantly expand apprenticeship programs in Maryland.