OPINION: Strengthening Our Schools

By Martin O'Malley, Governor

Earlier today, joined by Congressman Cummings, Mayor Dixon, and other elected and community leaders, we officially opened the SEED School of Maryland, our State's first public boarding school. This unique facility provides the opportunity for at-risk youth to learn in a safer school environment, with a curriculum designed to help open the doors of college opportunity to students who, for socioeconomic or other reasons, may not otherwise have had the same chance to succeed. The sixth grade class of 80 currently enrolled will soon expand to serve up to 400 students in grade six through twelve.

This exceptional partnership between state and local governments is part of the good news we shared with the Maryland State Teachers Association Annual Convention last week. Joined by hundreds of enthusiastic educators, we shared Maryland's commitment to the future of our State and the progress we've achieved so far:

-- Together, we've created a “P to 20 Council,” charged with the integration of a continuum of education, from pre-kindergarten through higher education. The Council focuses on such perennial concerns as teacher retention, the integration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and career and technology curricula.

-- After four years of 40% increases in college tuition and universities, we've held the line on in-state college tuition for three straight years.

-- We've increased funding in community colleges by about 40% compared to four years ago, maintaining Maryland's higher education institutions as state-of-the-art learning centers.

-- We've made an historic $5.3 billion investment in K-12 education in just two years, including over $740 million in school construction, moving students out of temporary learning shacks and into new classrooms, equipped with the materials they need.

In the coming years, our State's already unprecedented commitment of resources to Maryland's children will remain a priority. This is a priority that must be protected, even in difficult economic times. With the passage of the slots referendum, and a continued adherence to the principles of fiscal responsibility, we can fulfill our promise to the next generation and prepare the future workforce of Maryland to compete anywhere.

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