ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland General Assembly voted Thursday to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that creates a formula for identifying and assisting struggling schools.
Democratic lawmakers joined the ranks of those huddled at a press conference Thursday morning before casting their final votes to override the governor’s veto of the Protect Our Schools Act.
“We’re standing with Maryland students, parents, teachers and civil rights activists. So I’ll be proud to cast my vote for an override of his veto,” said Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery County.
Supporters say the bill takes a creative approach to provide a big-picture view of how schools succeed and protects public schools from privatization.
“His narrow agenda of private school vouchers and for-profit charter schools is not supported by the vast majority of Maryland families who rely on public schools in their neighborhoods,” said Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association.
Hogan and other Republicans who oppose the bill say it’s too lax on academic performance standards and makes it difficult to fix struggling schools. The governor is also concerned that the Protect Our Schools Act will tie the hands of the state Board of Education, limiting their power in helping to improve failing schools.
The governor posted a response to the veto override on Facebook, saying:
“I’m sad for the kids they are trapping in failing schools, and concerned about losing our federal education funding. This will long be remembered as a low point in Maryland’s legislative history.“
The bill’s supporters accused the administration of taking a narrow view of how to turn schools around.
“We’re not interested in giving up our responsibility to provide a public education,” said Delegate Mary Washington, D-Baltimore City.
The governor did make good on his promise to continue funding to make vouchers available for students who want to attend non-public schools. The state’s PTA council is among those calling for unity.
“It’s not about politics. It’s about whether our children have access to strong, high-quality public schools,” said Elizabeth Leight, president of the Maryland PTA.
The measure is the Legislature’s response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. It allows states to decide how to use a mix of test scores, academic growth and other factors to identify failing schools.