Thornton Commission Recommendations Fall Short

December 13, 2001
The following is a joint statement, issued yesterday evening [Wednesday, December 12] by Montgomery County Council President Steve Silverman, County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Board of Education President Reginald Felton and Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast on problems with the Thornton Commission Recommendations that would affect Montgomery County.

“The final recommendations of the Thornton Commission fall short of helping all at-risk students throughout the state of Maryland.

“The Commission’s recommendations would provide less than 2 percent of increased education funding to Montgomery County, which enrolls 16 percent of Maryland’s children in what is by far the largest and most diverse school system in the state. Nearly one in four county students receives federal meal assistance. More than half the children in Maryland with limited English proficiency live in Montgomery County. Special education enrollment has increased by 50 percent since 1990, with the County shouldering a disproportionate share of the cost.

“In fact, the number of poor children alone in our rapidly increasing school system exceeds the total enrollment of 16 Maryland school systems.

“The Thornton Commission recommendations shortchange these students because they happen to live in a county where the aggregate wealth -- though not their own -- is greater.

“Montgomery County pays over 22 percent of total state revenue in taxes. Yet, under this plan, the average per-student increase in Montgomery County would be just $17 far less than the cost of a single textbook.

“We need changes in education funding that will improve educational opportunities for all of Maryland’s children. We stand ready to work with the Governor, with the legislative leadership, and with our delegation to craft a formula and funding that leave no Maryland child behind regardless of where he or she lives.”

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