Monday, October 7, 2019

Pizza, Anyone?

Wrapping paper
Citrus Fruit
Tote bags
Chocolate bars
Cookie dough
Gift cards

It’s school fundraising time. Your school PTA is choosing products and events that they feel will be supported by the school community. Monies raised support programs within the school. We are all used to this. Nothing new here.

Just to belabor the obvious for a moment: we as taxpayers supply much of the money for our schools. And yet we also are asked to provide additional money in yearly fundraisers because somehow the taxpayer funds are not enough. It’s still us. Either way.

Am I missing something? We start with providing monies through taxes which give a certain amount to each school and then we are asked to give money again through fundraisers which then make the financial resources of each school wildly unequal.

Well, yes, it is far more complicated than that. We haven’t begun to talk about what happens in Annapolis. Legislators decide how tax money will be spent and then the Governor may or may not approve their decisions.

You may have heard about the Kirwan Commission and the Maryland Blueprint for our Schools. Essentially, Maryland’s schools are underfunded to the tune of 2.9 billion dollars annually. There are very concrete things we could be doing to support our students in Maryland that aren’t happening. This is not some amorphous “throw more money at the schools” idea. It’s a very well thought out plan with research and data behind it. It is a plan to change the status quo in Maryland Education and open up significant opportunities for students and support teachers, too.

Yes, this is a lot of money. Yes, implementing it will be a challenge. But look at the system we have in place now. We are in a never ending cycle of funding from Annapolis that is never enough, and perpetual fundraisers that make rich schools richer. Which leaves the poorer schools behind. We keep doing the same thing, hoping it will somehow be better this year.

I’d say that’s the funding model that’s unrealistic.

The most recent Goucher poll found that Marylanders support paying more in taxes to improve public education. The word used in Luke Broadwater’s Baltimore Sun article is “overwhelmingly” support. On the other hand, a majority didn’t know anything about the Kirwan Commission. That needs to change.

The folks from Maryland Blueprint are hosting community forums throughout the state to help people learn about the legislation and what it means for our schools. There was one at Patapsco Middle School last week. To find more, click here.

I’m probably buying pies, by the way. How about you?

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