Crunch time for school reform: Schomke balks: State wants accountability in exchange for funding

June 22, 1996

AT THE ANNUAL meeting of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education this week, high-powered speakers lauded the progress of Maryland's school reform effort. As Gov. Parris N. Glendening noted, this state is so far ahead on the crucial issue of setting performance standards that it has no other states to turn to for advice on the most difficult step of real education reform -- enforcing consequences for not meeting standards.

That is all too evident in the latest crisis to beset the reform effort -- an unfortunate stand-off between Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Mr. Glendening. The mayor, after initially agreeing to accept conditions for demonstrating accountability for additional state funds, now says that attaching those kinds of strings on aid to city schools is unacceptable and inaging city schools is a key priority for his administration.

This stand-off is discouraging to many supporters of school reform. But to legislators who take political risks to vote in favor of sending scarce dollars to Baltimore City, the mayor's dismissal of concerns about accountability is more than discouraging. Some see it as a dangerous and unnecessary provocation that puts at risk more political capital than Baltimore has in the bank.

sion. Yes, the city needs more money. And yes, it needs to accept more accountability for the money it receives. It would be far better for politicians to agree on both those points than to have federal judges decide it for them.

Pub Date: 6/22/96

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