Van Hollen, Cardin, Trone Introduce Bicameral “TRUE EQUITY Act” to Strengthen Federal-State-Local Educational Partnerships
New legislation seeks to elevate the educational reforms developed under the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to national-priority status
Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen joined Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman David Trone along with Representatives Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Jamie Raskin and Glenn Ivey (all D-Md.) to announce the introduction of legislation that would provide an additional $1.4 billion in federal grant funding for states and local communities that commit to transformative policy changes and allocated significant additional resources to address education inequities.
Purposefully aligning with the five main policy recommendations under the Kirwan Commission Blueprint for Maryland's Future, the legislation —Transformational Reforms and Updates to Ensure Educational Quality and Urgent Investments in Today’s Youth Act (TRUE EQUITY Act) — aims to strengthen and leverage federal-state-local partnerships to ensure educational equity and eliminate academic achievement gaps in exchange for stringent accountability measures. In Maryland, these new federal grants would cover a significant portion of the implementation costs for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act, state-level legislation enacted in 2021 after years of research, public meetings and collaborative engagement with stakeholders by theCommission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to design one of the best performing school systems in the world after full implementation of the Blueprint.
“Maryland students deserve the very best public education, and we are united in this fight for the federal government to be a strong partner in the positive transformation of our schools,” the lawmakers said. “Team Maryland thanks our dedicated education, community and elected leaders who continue to advance feasible recommendations that will help eliminate existing educational inequities. The TRUE EQUITY Act establishes a stronger federal partnership with state and local communities dedicated to providing their children a world-class education.”
Education leaders across Maryland have expressed support for this new federal legislation.
“We commend Senator Cardin’s and Representative Trone’s strong support for the transformative investments of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to ensure that every student has the opportunity to pursue their dreams,” said Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost. “Especially as we’re dealing with a crippling educator shortage, they recognize that we must take bold and meaningful actions to support our students and educators in every school district in Maryland. The TRUE EQUITY Act will provide a true federal partnership with our state and local efforts to eliminate academic disparities across racial and socioeconomic lines and elevate the teaching profession.”
Under the TRUE EQUITY Act, an additional $1.4 billion would be available to partner with state and local efforts to ensure educational equity and quality with stringent accountability measures. Specifically, this legislation would:
- Early Childhood Education: Create a new grant, authorized at up to $275 million, to bolster state and local investments in our youngest learners to prepare them to enter school ready to learn. In Maryland, this can expand access to all-day Pre-K and Judy Centers serving low-income families.
- High-Quality and Diverse Teachers and Leaders: Create a new grant, authorized at up to $340 million, to support additional teacher training and ensure educators are utilizing the latest practices. In Maryland, this would support statewide growing needs for special educators.
- College and Career Readiness Pathways: Create a new grant, authorized at up to $50 million, to build on state and local efforts to ensure that students have access to college and career pathways by 10th grade. In Maryland, this would expand access to certificate programs and dual-enrollment Pell.
- More Resources to Ensure All Students Are Successful: Create a new grant, authorized at up to $750 million, to strengthen funding for programs that reduce achievement gaps and provide wraparound services for children. In Maryland, this would provide needed funding for low-income students, English learner students and children with disabilities, as well as allow an expansion of physical and mental health services and afterschool and summer learning activities.
- Governance and Accountability: Require that any state applying for funding under the TRUE EQUITY Act establish an independent State Oversight Board with the ability to hold state and local school districts accountable for failing to meet the state-established educational equity goals. Grant renewals would be contingent on meeting these goals. In Maryland, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act’s Accountability & Implementation Board would allow Maryland to qualify for the TRUE EQUITY Act grants.
All four grant programs created by the TRUE EQUITY Act would provide a federal match of $1 for every $2 invested by state and local communities. In Maryland, these federal grants would cover a significant portion of the costs to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act, bringing up to $1.4 billion in new federal funding to the state.
The full text of the bill can be found here and a one-page description of the legislation can be found at this link.
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