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Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Rutherford Announce Public Charter School Expansion Legislation

Joined With U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan At The Empowerment Academy In Baltimore City

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Rutherford today joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the Empowerment Academy, a Baltimore City public charter school founded in 2003. As part of the visit, Governor Hogan met privately with Secretary Duncan to discuss education issues facing the state. This included House Bill 486 – Public Charter School Expansion and Improvement Act of 2015, the Hogan administration’s proposed legislation designed to strengthen charter school laws in Maryland. This legislation currently has 50 sponsors with bipartisan support from both chambers.

“This is a great opportunity to see firsthand the impact charter schools are having in our state,” said Governor Hogan. “Maryland has one of the best education systems in the country, but the gap between good schools and underachieving schools is among the worst. This legislation is designed to create more choices and opportunities for our children and ensure a greater balance in the quality of education across the state.”

Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Rutherford, and Secretary Duncan also participated in a reading activity with second- and third-grade students at the school, taking turns reading the classic children’s book The Little Engine That Could.

In 2014, the Empowerment Academy was one of seven schools identified by Maryland Campaign for Achievement Now (Maryland CAN) as an Opportunity School – a school where students outperformed overall proficiency rates on yearly statewide assessments.

Governor Hogan’s proposed legislation will deliver greater autonomy and allow for new innovation through changes in the way public charter schools are regulated by education authorities. Provisions of the legislation will do the following:

  • Require public charter school operators to include in their applications a plan to provide rigorous program instruction and ensure that professional staff will be well qualified and credentialed
  • Provide an operating funding formula based on per pupil allocation and a capital funding stream by authorizing charter schools to be eligible for that capital improvement program
  • Ensure that public charter schools have access to public facilities commensurate with other public non-charter schools
  • Authorize charter school employees to be employees of the public charter school rather than of the local school system
  • Exempt public charter schools from the state teacher certification requirements
  • Authorize public charter school employees to form their own exclusive bargaining unit
  • Allow public charter school employees to be exempt from collective bargaining agreements of local school districts

Currently, 47 charter schools operate in Maryland, with approximately 18,000 students enrolled. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Maryland has the fewest public charter schools of any state in the nation where charter schools are permitted.

Full text of the legislation can be found here: HB486


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