Brown proposal for closing the achievement gap

March 04, 2014|By Liz Bowie | By Liz Bowie

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown pledged Tuesday to adopt a variety of new educational initiatives that take aim at reducing the achievement gap by extending support to struggling families.

The new Brown proposals include placing Latino liaisons in schools that have a large Hispanic population, training teachers to better understand students from diverse cultural backgrounds and expanding the school breakfast program. Several items on the list are initiatives that he has unveiled previously, such as expanding pre-kindergarten and building better school facilities for career and technology education.

The total package of proposals would increase state spending on education by $7 million a year in 2016 and by $13.6 million in 2019, and is designed to shrink the achievement gap between African-American and white students and Hispanic and white students. Test scores and graduation rates for those minorities are below the state average.

Maryland governors have little say over classroom teaching or local education decision making, and most of the Brown spending would go to building new school facilities or programs outside of classrooms.

His plan draws on a decades-old program started in Harlem called the Harlem Children's Zone that has had some success in raising educational achievement by intervening shortly after birth.

Brown would implement a similar program in three poor neighborhoods, including the Promise Heights Project in the Upton and Druid Heights neighborhoods. For instance, he would put in  after-school programs to keep students safe and provide more adult mentoring.

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