Rather than have the state take over low-performing schools, Hogan’s proposed Community and Local Accountability for Struggling Schools Act — or CLASS Act — would put reform choices into the hands of local leaders.
“They’re the ones who have been frustrated,” Hogan said. “Their kids are the ones that have been cheated, and we think they should have more of a role in the future.”
The governor’s legislation has not yet been drafted, and few additional details on his proposed program were available Thursday. His bills would be considered at the same time as the Democratic-majority General Assembly takes up a competing reform plan, known as Kirwan effort, that calls for sweeping changes to public education in the state.
House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) said in a statement that the Kirwan program was drafted through years of public input and is considerably more specific than what Hogan unveiled at a midday news conference.
“It is difficult to respond to slogans when there aren’t actual details behind them,” she said of Hogan’s proposals, which have historically faced slim chances in a legislature dominated by Democrats.
To fix school buildings, Hogan proposed a $3.8 billion school construction initiative financed largely by borrowing against money generated by Maryland’s casinos. The revenue bond plan appears to be nearly identical to a separate proposal pitched by Democratic legislative leaders last month, a rare instance of policy agreement between them and Hogan.
The legislative leaders proposed an additional $2.2 billion for school construction over the next five years. On top of the $1.6 billion in budgeted school construction plans, that would equal $3.8 billion.
While Democrats and education advocates herald the Kirwan proposals as a once-in-a-generation chance to improve achievement, Hogan has criticized their lofty price tag — about $4 billion a year once the plan is fully implemented. He is seeking to raise millions to pay for an advocacy campaign to oppose the proposals.
On Thursday, the governor reinforced his objections, and promised to aggressively fight any tax increase to pay for the Kirwan plan.
“Investing record amounts of money is not going to solve all of the problems of our local schools,” Hogan said.