Press Release

February 26, 2019
Maryland Congressional Delegation Talks Public Education with Kirwan Commission Chairman

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin convened members of Maryland’s congressional delegation on Tuesday to meet with Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan, Chairman of the Maryland Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission). Participants included Senators Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, Congressman John P. Sarbanes and Congressman David Trone (All D-Md.). The members spoke in detail about the current state of Maryland schools, and how the federal delegation could best support a strong future for all of our public school students. Video of the delegation and Dr. Kirwan speaking after the meeting may be downloaded at this link.

“We want the best for every student in every public school district in our state. I was inspired and impressed by the recommendations of the Kirwan commission, as well as the feasibility and the imperative for getting this done for our state and all of our students,” said Senator Cardin. . “We have a responsibility at the federal level to set funding priorities and there are opportunities coming soon to support students and teachers through the upcoming Higher Education Act reauthorization and by providing appropriate levels of funding. Team Maryland will do all we can to help Maryland succeed.”

“Every student in our state deserves a top-rate education. I appreciate the work of Dr. Kirwan and the Kirwan Commission to put forward recommendations to improve our public education system and build on the Thornton Commission legislation I worked on in the State Legislature. I was glad to have the opportunity to discuss these issues in depth today – there is no higher priority in Maryland than implementing these recommendations. We must continue working together on the local, state, and federal level to make sure our students have access to a quality education. In the Senate, I will keep fighting to increase resources and funding to our public schools and expand opportunity for all Maryland families,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen.  

“I thank Dr. Brit Kirwan for meeting with the Maryland Delegation today to discuss what steps we must take to improve Maryland public schools. Dr. Kirwan has been a strong advocate for quality education in our state for many years, and I join in thanking him for his leadership,” said Congressman Hoyer. “We must ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed, from early childhood education through secondary education. It is critically important that we bolster school readiness and college and career readiness as well as address disparities for students of color and students in low-income communities. The Delegation is committed to supporting the implementation of Dr. Kirwan’s recommendations and working with local leaders and stakeholders to improve public education in our state.”

“The Commission’s report makes clear that to prepare our children for success in the 21st century we must lift our whole education system to attract qualified teachers, raise academic standards, and provide greater resources for low-income and special needs children,” said Congressman Cummings.  “I have often said that our children are the living messages we send to a future that we will never see.  I look forward to partnering with the Maryland General Assembly and Governor Hogan as they work to implement these recommendations, so our students will have the opportunity to become all that they are destined to be.”

“Ensuring that every student in Maryland graduates ready for college and careers is going to take a massive team effort on the federal, state and local levels,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “It also has to start in early childhood, which is why those of us in Congress must continue to advance programs like Head Start, school lunches and universal pre-K, as stated in the Kirwan Commission’s initial policy recommendations. We stand ready to support the commission in any way we can to provide all students with the opportunity to succeed.”

“Today’s productive discussion with Dr. Kirwan underscores Maryland’s commitment to high-quality public education and reinforces our ongoing work to ensure that Maryland students have the opportunities and skills they need to succeed,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Maryland Congressional Delegation and the General Assembly, as well as with our partners on the ground, as they implement the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations and take positive steps to improve the quality of early childhood education, primary education and secondary education for every student in our state.”

“Maryland students deserve the best education in the world, and we must do all we can to provide them with that opportunity. There’s no better long-term investment in the success of Maryland than our schools and our students, and that means we must coordinate at the federal, state, and local level to make sure we are making that investment,” Congressman Trone said. “As the only Member of the Maryland delegation on the Education and Labor Committee, I look forward to being a champion for Maryland students on the federal level. This means we must invest in students from Pre-K until they are college and career-ready. We must put resources into training our teachers and ensure we are supporting students in low-income communities. I support the work of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence and am ready to work to get these recommendations enacted.”

“We must renew our commitment to guaranteeing that every Maryland child receives a world-class education. The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, led by Dr. Kirwan, has recommended bold ideas that, if enacted and fully funded, would make Maryland a global leader in education. These reforms would give our students a strong foundation for future success and prepare them to compete with the best in the world. I strongly support efforts to transform public education in Maryland by offering universal high-quality pre-kindergarten, providing greater support for struggling students, increasing pay and training for teachers, and ensuring every student can graduate fully career and college-ready,” Congressman Anthony G. Brown added.

In 2016, the General Assembly and the governor established the Kirwan Commission to identify what education reforms and additional costs were necessary to transform Maryland’s K-12 public school system into one of the best performing school systems in the world. During their initial discovery, the commission found that less than half of kindergartners were entering school ready to learn and that fewer than 40 percent of students were graduating from Maryland high schools “college and career ready.” The Kirwan Commission also found glaring disparities between academic success between white students and students of color, as well as the academic performance of any student that attends a school in concentrated poverty.

In order to transform Maryland’s schools into one of the best performing systems in the world, the Kirwan Commission has made five major recommendations: (1) providing additional investments in early childhood education; (2) transforming teaching into a high-status profession; (3) implementing a rigorous curricula benchmarked to international standards that lead to students to be college and career ready by 10th grade; (4) ensuring all students are successful by providing significantly more support for schools who need it most, including students attending schools with high concentrations of poverty and struggling learners; and (5) stablishing rigorous governance and accountability structures with meaningful consequences for under performance by local school systems.