ANNAPOLIS – Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening said Thursday he will boost early education programs by $30 million, bringing increases in direct aid to classrooms to 63 percent during the Glendening-Townsend administration.
The Early Education Initiative allots $11 million for pre-kindergarten education, partially for certifying child care professionals and obtaining accreditation for early childhood facilities.
The remaining $19 million will fund local priorities for kindergarten through third grade, including reduction of class sizes, all-day kindergarten, and library and resource materials, Glendening said.
Since Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend first came into office in 1995, funding for K-12 has undergone a $1 billion increase, with $2.57 billion per year provided for direct education aid.
“There is no function of government that is as important as what we do for education,” Glendening said.
The initiative is supported by the Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families. Sen. Barbara Hoffman, D-Baltimore, a committee member, said one of its goals is for children to enter schools ready to learn.
“We now know from brain research that so much learning takes place from birth to [age] 3, then 3 to 5,” she said. “Ninety percent of brain growth occurs in the first five years, but 90 percent of money is spent on kids after [they are] 5 years old.”
Shelley McMahon, a second-grade teacher at Annapolis Elementary School, said she is “very excited” about Glendening’s plan.
“It lets us know that there are strides every day to benefit education for children,” she said.
At her school, McMahon said, children often lack the necessary school supplies. Additional funding would “help [the students] have a better school day,” she said.
Glendening also announced a Baltimore City Remedy Plan, which will provide $55 million in educational funds for the city for 2002, a $22 million increase from last year.
The plan announcement follows a rise in test scores of students last year, said Tyson Tildon, chairman of the Baltimore Board of Education.
The effects of the funding the city receives from the state are apparent, he said. “It shows that when you use funds in a very focused manner, you can upgrade the achievement level of the kids.”
From spring 1998 to spring 2000, the city’s first-grade standardized reading test scores improved by 19 percent, said Betty Morgan, chief academic officer for Baltimore schools.
Part of the plan funding for 2002 will go toward summer school programs. The city was only able to provide the program, which costs $5 million for 10,000 students, for second- and fourth-grade students this past summer, but hopes to expand it to accommodate students of other grades, she said.
Another portion of Baltimore’s money will be used to improve library resource and attract teachers through professional development programs, said Carmen Russo, chief executive officer of Baltimore schools. In addition, said Russo, the city wants to expand its all-day kindergarten programs.
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