Maryland's 24 public school systems have been recognized once again by Education Week as the best in the nation. Maryland's boards of education, superintendents, teachers and students are clearly doing outstanding work from pre-kindergarten through high school graduation. Maryland students are being prepared to enter school ready to learn, given rigorous classroom instruction so that they are reading at grade level, achieving the high standards and goals set by the No Child Left Behind Act for proficiency for all students in reading, math and science, and entering the workforce and higher education ready for the challenges of the 21st century.
This is no accident. Maryland's success was paid for with state and local tax dollars generously provided to ramp up the per pupil increases in funding needed to build an adequate and equitable statewide public school system. The three consecutive years of being ranked No. 1 in the nation is proof that the Thornton Bridge to Excellence Act, passed in 2002, and the commitments of governors and legislators since then to budget the annual increases to achieve full funding by 2008, is money well spent.
Now is not the time for Maryland to make radical cuts in public school funding ("We're No. 1 — again," Jan. 12). Now is not the time to allow all counties to drop below current funding levels without at least requesting and receiving a waiver from the State Board of Education. Now is not the time to shift teacher retirement costs to local school boards — if any shift is made it must be to county governments, which have the taxing authority to respond to such a huge new funding mandate.
Now is the time to hold the line on education funding, at the state and local level, to keep Maryland No. 1. The Maryland Association of Boards of Education, representing all 24 local boards of education, asks that all Marylanders speak out now in favor of state and local funding for public schools. Call, e-mail, or speak directly to your county commissioners, council members, executives and delegates and senators to urge their commitment to holding the line on public education funding.
I add a personal note of congratulations and thanks to all Maryland boards of education, teachers, administrators, staff, and students for a job well done.
Thomas A. Carr, Annapolis
The writer is president of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.