Several Democratic hopefuls in the Maryland gubernatorial race have proposed such initiatives as full-day universal pre-K and increased funding for teachers, school psychologists and social workers to enhance public school achievement.
But Kevin Kamenetz proclaims his campaign stands out for one major reason: his running mate Valerie Ervin.
Ervin was elected to the Montgomery County school board in 2004 and founded the Montgomery County Education Forum and Blacks United for Excellence in Education. Two years later, she became the first Black woman elected to its County Council.
“No one in the field running for lieutenant governor has that experience,” Ervin said in an interview Friday, April 13.
The Kamenetz education proposal — released April 10, one day after the Maryland General Assembly concluded — seeks to implement several initiatives such as:
• making community college tuition-free for high school graduates, similar to a program Kamenetz proposed last month in Baltimore County;
• returning control of school calendars to local school systems; and
• increasing the state’s annual allocation for school construction projects.
Another item in the plan would eliminate Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s BOOST (Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today) program, which sets aside money for students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch programs to attend private schools. Public school advocates have called BOOST a “voucher program.”
“Public schools are the last and final public good in this country,” Ervin said. “As a ticket, we’ll do everything in our power to fight against using public dollars for private schools.”
The proposal calls to appoint a Thornton Commission-style analysis of the state’s four historically Black colleges and universities to hep eliminate any inequities for those institutions and the rest of Maryland’s schools.
The commission, named after former Prince George’s County school board member Alvin Thornton, created a formula to ensure children in every Maryland school system received adequate funding regardless of zip code.
“Maryland is known for having some premier colleges and universities, but they are operating not on the same level and equal playing field,” Ervin said. “Kevin and I both think this is a fight worth fighting.”
So does Kamenetz’s opponent, state Sen. Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County.
His campaign distributed a document on March 15, the same day the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland hosted a HBCU night in Annapolis, that proposes a $1 billion allocation over a 10-year period for all four schools.
“Investing $1 billion over 10 years should be viewed as a wise and strategic resource deployment that will bring positive returns for all Marylanders,” the plan stated. “We are investing in our greatest resource: our people.”
The other seven opponents seeking the Democratic nomination in the June 26 primary are Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; former NAACP president Ben Jealous; tech entrepreneur Alec Ross; Baltimore attorney Jim Shea; Krish Vignarajah, former policy director for Michelle Obama; educator Ralph Jaffe of Baltimore County; and James Jones of Baltimore City.
The winner will face Hogan in the November general election.