Teachers, parents and students show support for Thornton Commission
Thousands of students and teachers gathered in Annapolis on Feb. 9 for a rally sponsored by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and other organizations to demand full funding for the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act, commonly known as the Thornton Commission.
A busload of Blair teachers and students attended the rally.
Approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2002, the Thornton Commission, named after developer Dr. Alvin Thornton, restructures state education finance programs and calls for $1.3 billion for Maryland public schools. The commission also created a formula based on student population and local wealth that grants more funding to the poorest schools, according to a fact sheet about the Bridge to Excellence Act. Schools have flexibility with the funding they receive as long as they submit and adhere to annual plans for improvement and reflect progress.
The controversy lies in supporting the Thornton Commission, whose legislation failed to incorporate a revenue source. A lack of defined revenue allows Governor Bob Ehrlich to postpone or delay funding for the Thornton Commission despite its approval by the Maryland legislature.
Teachers, parents and students from all over Maryland gathered in the state capital to show support for full funding of the Thornton Commission. The rally began at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, where protestors met before marching to the State House. Several roads were closed off in order to accommodate the march.
To show their support for the Thornton Commision, protestors wore yellow "Fund Public Schools" stickers and waved signs that advocated Maryland public education.
Numerous education officials spoke in favor for full funding of the Thornton Commission in front of the State House. CJ Caniglia, Student Member of the Maryland State Board of Education, announced that "a future of fully funding of [the] Thornton [Commission] will be one where achievement matters most."
In addition, Nancy Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, said, "We must have this funding to enable our children to meet the standards we set, the highest in this nation…We need this money now!"
Other speakers included Pat Foerster, President of the Maryland State Teachers Association, Terry Troy, president of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, Susan Goering, Executive Director of the Maryland American Civil Liberties Union and Dr. Alvin Thornton, creator of the Thornton Commission.
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