There is a growing bipartisan outcry for more equity and diversity on the Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB), which will be charged with implementing the new Kirwan education overhaul statewide and overseeing tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.
While the Kirwan law expressly requires that this powerful panel reflects the diversity of the state, the leaders of the nominating committee—including Sen. Paul Pinsky—have shockingly recommendedresidents from just four of the state’s 24 jurisdictionsandonly from Central Maryland: Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Montgomery County.
This severe lack of diversity has been met with strong bipartisan opposition, and Governor Hogan has asked the nominating committee to submit additional candidates for the board: “Every student in Maryland deserves access to world-class education and to be fairly represented in the decision-making process that governs school policy. To operate in a manner that hurts our efforts to further equity and inclusiveness does a tremendous disservice to our young people.”
1. There is no representation from Prince George’s County, the state’s second-most populous jurisdiction—prompting a letter from County Executive Angela Alsobrooks:
- “To ensure that the unique challenges we face are front and center as the AIB develops an implementation plan and then monitors how that plan is put into action,it is critical that we have a Prince Georgian, who is familiar with our school system, on the AIB.”
2. There is no Latino representation—prompting a letter from the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus:
- “If the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is to achieve its aims, there must be a consideration for the AIB to incorporate the representation that can ensure the unique interests of the Latino student population are being taken into account.We respectfully urge you to name a qualified Latino member as an addition to the AIB.”
3. There isno representation from Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore, or Southern Maryland—prompting opposition from legislators for these regions:
- Sen. Michael Hough, Frederick, Carroll Counties: “We granted this board enormous authority to hold school systems accountable for student outcomes and changes in achievement gaps. In order to carry out its mission, the board needs to reflect the diversity of the student population in Maryland. … There is no representation for Frederick County or Western Maryland whatsoever. Western Maryland is a major and important region of this state. We face different education challenges than other jurisdictions in the state and it is important that we have a voice on the board.” (Letter, 9/24/21)
- Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties: “There is no representation from the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, or any rural jurisdiction. Within the past week, I have talked to local Board of Education members from my district who are alarmed by the prospect of no representation on the Accountability and Implementation Board. Given that there are nine nominees representing only four jurisdictions in the State, it is a fair, reasonable and bipartisan request of the AIB Nominating Committee to provide additional nominees to ensure that individuals are appointed to the AIB Board who truly reflect all of Maryland’s student population and constituencies.” (Letter, 9/27/21)
- Sen. Jack Bailey, Calvert, St. Mary’s Counties: “As the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is implemented, rural systems will face issues not experienced by larger systems in the state. … Additionally, rural systems such as those I represent already face difficulties in recruiting, hiring, and retaining certificated and professional staff. These challenges will intensify as systems must add significant numbers of staff mandated by the Blueprint legislation. It is imperative that the AIB have a member who is attuned to our unique challenges and prepared to specifically address those issues in their oversight role.” (Letter, 9/24/21)
- Sen. Paul Corderman, Washington County: “Maryland’s students and teachers have a variety of needs, opinions, and values that vary in each county and region. … I am requesting that the application process be reopening immediately to provide time for a more inclusive group of nominees to be considered.” (Letter, 9/24/21)
4. The Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate have called for more diversity to be added to the committee:
- Senate Republican Caucus: “On behalf of the members of the Senate Republican Caucus, I respectfully ask that you reconsider your decision and reopen the application process to ensure that the members of the Accountability and Implementation Board adequately represent Maryland’s geographic, racial and gender diversity. … In order for the Blueprint to be successful, the implementation process must be transparent and carried out by individuals that represent the best cross-section possible of Maryland’s diverse communities.” (Letter from Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire, 9/27/21)
- House Republican Caucus: “To limit the members of the Accountability and Implementation Board only to those from Central Maryland suggests a one-size-fits-all approach from the outset – which will undoubtedly be detrimental to its success and to the success of school systems across the state. … The lack of geographic diversity among the nominees, and the lack of transparency in the overall selection process leads us to respectfully request the Nominating Committee provide additional nominees for appointment to the Accountability and Implementation Board.” (Letter from House Minority Leader Jason Buckel and House Minority Whip Christopher Adams, 9/27/21)