Kirwan Commission Update
One of the most engaging and important experiences of my professional career is serving as a member of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, better known as the Kirwan Commission, in recognition of its chairman, Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan. For me, one of only two of 25 members who do not work in or for schools or the school system or who are scholars of education, the learning curve was steep, the presentations spellbinding, the facts sobering, and Commission dialogue stimulating. The result of the Commission’s deliberations is a comprehensive set of preliminary recommendations designed to transform public education in Maryland into a world-class education system that produces adults – everyone who enters the system — who are fully ready to enter the workforce and/or the university system.
The Commission was able to reach agreement on most of the recommendations because of the dedication, intelligence, and diversity of people involved, including the gifted staff of the Department of Budget and Management who did the hard work, preparing presenters, materials, and meals for numerous day-long meetings, providing answers to every question, writing minutes and recommendations, and performing many other tasks besides. It has been a joy and an honor to serve with each of them, and though our work is coming to an end, my admiration and respect for them never will.
A few of the Commissioners have spoken publicly about our work and related issues. Chairman Kirwan has been a frequent speaker around the State. Buzzy Hettleman and Morgan Showalter have published op ed pieces in prominent newspapers. These give you a sense of the thoughtfulness of Commissioners.
Our next task, after we agree on a funding formula, is to see that the Kirwan Commission recommendations are fully funded and then implemented with fidelity. Those tasks will be more challenging than the work so far.