Spotlighting Solutions to Complex Problems
In 2019, the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (better known as the Kirwan Commission) delivered its long-awaited recommendations on how to create a world-class educational system for Maryland’s public school students. Their report was informed by three years of research and policy development. Throughout this time BCF convened partners to understand on-the-ground inequities between Maryland’s students of color and white students and commissioned The Education Trust to gather data on disparities in achievement. From both direct community feedback and data analysis, it was clear that these disparities are a reflection of how we organize our schools and shortchange certain students when it comes to critical educational opportunities from early childhood through high school.
Our advocacy kicked into high gear in December as the Commission prepared to report to the 2020 Maryland General Assembly. Armed with the Ed Trust Report, which demonstrated persistent income and racial inequities, we granted $35,000 to Strong Schools Maryland, a grassroots coalition organizing across the state to ensure that the Kirwan Commission’s final recommendations would address the needs of all students, especially those disproportionately affected by policies because of race, poverty, language, and disability. Strong Schools Maryland recruited individuals and organizations from around the state to form teams that met monthly to learn about the education landscape in Maryland and to take action by writing and calling Commission members and elected officials. The work of Ed Trust and Strong Schools Maryland set the stage for the 2020 Maryland General Assembly session, when the Commission’s recommendations were enacted in legislation called the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. To learn more about the current status of the Blueprint and BCF’s advocacy in support of it, visit www.bcf.org/kirwan.