Friday, November 15, 2019
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Md. order makes starting before Labor Day difficult

In the never-ending saga of starting school after Labor Day in Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan issued a second executive order yesterday in order to make it difficult for school districts to apply for a waiver of the new requirement, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Gov. Larry Hogan at the Ravens-Redskins game, Baltimore, Oct. 9 (Md Gov Pics/Flickr CC)

Several school systems are planning to seek a waiver, including Montgomery County, write Ovetta Wiggins and Donna St George in the Washington Post. The original order would require any district that wants to start the school year before Labor Day to get a waiver from the Maryland State Board of Education.

But neither the exact process for applying for a waiver nor the conditions that would allow the state board to grant such a waiver were made clear when Mr Hogan gave the order more than a month ago. The new rules take the burden of decision away from the state board a bit.

The board would only be able to grant a waiver under the new rules if the districts

  • have charter schools with innovative schedules
  • have had 10 emergency or weather-related closings at least twice during the past five years
  • have low-performing or at-risk schools with innovative schedules

“It seems to me that this governor has intentionally put the brakes on the state board proceeding with multiple waivers,” said board member Chester E Finn Jr. “It’s evident that a number of districts are ready to ask for them. This pretty clearly seeks to make that impossible.”

Indeed, the governor’s new executive order makes a decision cut and dry. Either one of these conditions is met or it isn’t, and there’s no negotiating about it.

The governor has “gone way too far,” the Post quoted state Senator Paul Pinsky, Democrat of Prince George’s County, as saying. “It’s an abuse of power.”

Many districts have already produced calendars for the 2017-18 school year. Harford County has one that starts after Labor Day; Baltimore County is reviewing the calendar for next year but has one option that ignores the executive order, WBFF-TV (FOX affiliate) reports.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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