Children need a good education from Pre-K through 12th grade to be successful in today’s globalized marketplace. They also need opportunities for post-secondary education –whether at a two-year community college, a trade school, or a 4-year college or university. I am committed to enhancing educational opportunities for all children in Maryland.
Funding for Public Education
That is why I support full funding for public education and have worked with other Baltimore County legislators to ensure that our local schools receive the funding needed to ensure a quality education for every child in Baltimore County. An important component to ensuring that Baltimore County receives necessary funding, is the funding increases promised by the 2002 Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act (also known as the “Thornton Act,”), especially the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI).
In 2015, I supported HB 215/ SB 183 that required the Governor to fully fund the GCEI, after Governor Hogan refused to release the GCEI funding last year. Those funds help our schools address many of the issues related to increasing population and aging buildings. Thanks to that bill last year, Governor Hogan fully funded the GCEI in his budget for FY17.
Fixing Aging Public Schools
I am working with others to address the conditions of Baltimore County’s aging public school buildings – which include several in District 11: Pikesville High School (recently renovated) and Dulaney High School (which is scheduled for renovations). I have visited many area schools and have seen the effects of burst pipes and poor maintenance and repairs; and I’ve heard from many parents about the problems caused by a lack of air conditioning in June and September and sometimes even poor heat in winter.
HB 231 (2016)—Public Institutions of Higher Education-Financial Aid-Reduction Prohibited
This year I am supporting several bills that are designed to keep higher education affordable and accessible to all students. I am the primary sponsor of HB 231, a bill that would restrict public institutions of higher education from engaging in the negative practice of award displacement. Award displacement occurs when a student’s receipt of a private scholarship (including state legislative scholarships, like mine) leads to the reduction of the aid package offered by the higher education institution.
Unfortunately, many students are affected by this practice every year. Award displacement is a misuse of private donor funds and a practice that could discourage future donor support to private groups that try to help young people afford college.
Most importantly, it is also unfair to the student. With the amendments, the bill establishes that the institutional financial aid can only be cut in cases when the total aid available to the student, including state or private scholarships, exceeds the student’s financial need. The bill thus ensures that students with unmet financial need will not have their institutional aid packages reduced after receiving private scholarships.
HB 741 (2016) – Higher Education- Institutions of Postsecondary Education-Consumer Protection Provisions
I am the sponsor of this bill, which will help protect students from misleading practices used by some for-profit higher education institutions in Maryland.
This bill will increase the transparency of the for-profit college claims by requiring them to prominently post a net price calculator on their websites. HB 741 will also increase the accountability checks of private career schools as well as create and strengthen the guaranty funds for students. This bill will be an important step in ensuring that no student is deceived into taking on large amounts of debt to pay for education of questionable quality.
Since 2012, when it was established, I have been co-chair of the Financial Education and Capability Commission, which is focused on helping students afford a college education and enhancing financial literacy in Maryland. Since its creation, the commission has made a number of recommendations to the legislature that would increase the use of 529 savings accounts by Maryland families; increase support for programs and tools that would help Maryland high school students afford and complete college; improve Maryland’s college financial aid system; and expand student access to college advising while in high school.
Another piece of legislation that I’m very proud of helps students when they are applying to college by requiring public institutions of higher education to provide all first-time, full-time undergraduate freshmen with information on the cost of higher education at the institution. HB 18, which became law in 2014, now requires public institutions of higher education to either mail or provide electronically to all college-bound students information from the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. This sheet was created by the U.S. Department of Education to help college-bound students fully understand the costs they would be incurring at all the schools they are considering.