Strong Schools, Strong Students

Mary’s Position & Commitment

Mary believes that our most important investments must be in our young people. From early childhood programs to higher education, schools should be safe and inspiring places to learn and serve their communities. She will fight for full and stable funding for our public schools, teacher salaries and pensions, and post-secondary institutions.

2015 Session

Mary co-sponsored the Task Force to Study the Implementation of a Dyslexia Education Program (HB 0278), establishing a task force made up of representatives of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, the Maryland State Education Association, and the Maryland School Psychologists’ Association to research the above and report their findings and recommendations by December of 2015. This bill became law on May 12th, 2015.

Mary co-sponsored the Education – Student Data Privacy Act of 2015 (HB 0298), requiring the protection of PreK-12 student information from unauthorized access and prohibiting the advertisement, selling, and disclosing of student information. This bill became law on May 12th, 2015.

Mary co-sponsored the Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools (HB 0452), establishing a commission to review Maryland’s use of assessments and testing in public schools and requiring it to report its findings and recommendations by July of 2016. This bill became law on May 12th, 2015.

Mary co-sponsored the Blind or Visually Impaired Children – Individualized Education Programs – Orientation and Mobility Instruction (HB 0535), requiring individualized education programs for blind or visually impaired children to provide orientation and mobility instruction. This bill became law on May 12th, 2015.

Mary co-sponsored the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board – School Counselors – Certification Renewal Requirement (HB 0947), requiring that said board ensure that all school counselors applying for a certification renewal have met the requirements/obtained the necessary knowledge and skills required for the certificate. This bill became law on May 12th, 2015.

Mary sponsored the Creation of a State Debt – Baltimore City – St. Elizabeth School Indoor Playground (HB 0277) authorizing the awarding of a $150,000 grant to the Board of Trustees of the St. Elizabeth School, Inc. for the creation of an indoor playground. The bill was stalled with an unfavorable report by the House Appropriations Committee.

Mary sponsored the Higher Education – Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Tuition Exemption – Modification (HB 0297), altering the definition of unaccompanied homeless youth by requiring specified documentation that establishes that the child or youth has had a consistent presence in the State for at least 1 year before enrollment in a public institution of higher education and requiring a financial aid administrator to annually make a specified verification. This bill was vetoed by the governor on May 12th, 2015.

Mary co-sponsored the Education – Geographic Cost of Education – Requirement (HB 0215), requiring that county boards of education recognize regional differences in the cost of education that are due to factors outside of the control of the local jurisdiction, providing a grant to make up the difference, and repealing a provision that allowed for the reduction of a grant under specified circumstances. This bill remains in the House with a favorable report by the Ways and Means Committee, and may be implemented by July 1st, 2015.

Mary co-sponsored the Public and Nonpublic Schools – Student Diabetes Management Program (HB 0992), requiring the State Department of Education and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to establish guidelines for the training of trained diabetes care providers, and requiring each county board of education to require public schools to establish a Student Diabetes Management Program in the school. This bill remains in the House.

Mary co-sponsored the Public Schools – Thirsty Kids Act (HB 1023), requiring public schools to make available free, unlimited, potable drinking water for each student throughout the school day, include a reusable water bottle on the school supplies list for each student in kindergarten through grade 12, and provide cups for drinking water. This bill also requires the State Department of Education to encourage each county board to develop a plan to promote the consumption of drinking water, the use of reusable water bottles, and weekly cleaning of water bottles. This bill remains in the house.

Mary co-sponsored the Primary Education – Prekindergarten Through Grade 2 State Assessments – Required Study (HB 1137), requiring the State Board of Education to report to specified committees of the General Assembly by December of 2015 in regards to issues with local school system assessments. This bill passed in the House with a vote of 137-0, but was stalled in the Senate with an unfavorable report by Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs.

2014 Session

Mary sponsored Higher Education – Unaccompanied Homeless Youth – Tuition Exemption (HB 0482), which would add unaccompanied homeless youth to the list of individuals who may be eligible for waiver of tuition and fees at institutions of higher education, and require that an administrator verify that these individuals qualify as independent students under the federal College Cost Reduction and Access. This bill became law on May 15th 2014.

Mary co-sponsored Education – Task Force to Study the Suspension of Prekindergarten Students in Public Schools (HB 0561), establishing said task force and requiring that it report its findings and recommendations by December of 2014. This bill was stalled in the House.

Mary co-sponsored Task Force to Study Chronic Absenteeism in Maryland’s Public Schools (0869), establishing said task force to evaluate local and national strategies and best practices to address chronic absenteeism, identify responses to chronic absenteeism that rely on prevention and intervention, and make recommendations by December of 2014. This bill was stalled in the House.

Mary co-sponsored Teachers and Principals – Performance Evaluation Criteria – Use of Student Growth Data (HB 1167), prohibiting specified performance evaluation criteria from requiring the use of specified student growth data based on State assessments to be used to make personnel hiring decisions before the 2016-2017 school year. This bill became law on May 15th 2014.

Mary co-sponsored Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Evaluation (HB 1194), requiring the Maryland Higher Education Commission to contract with a third party for an evaluation of the needs of the historically black colleges and universities in Maryland in order to be comparable and competitive with other public universities in the State. This bill passed in the House but was stalled in the Senate.

2013 Session

Mary co-sponsored Public School Employees – Collective Bargaining – Representation Fees (HB 0667), requiring public school employers in all jurisdictions of the State to negotiate with employee organizations designated as the exclusive representatives for the public school employees. This bill became law on May 2nd 2013.

Mary co-sponsored Juvenile Law – Prohibition Against Continued Detention (HB 0711), prohibiting the continued detention, beyond emergency detention, of a child under the age of 14, unless the child is alleged to have committed an act that, if committed by an adult, would be punishable by death or life imprisonment. This bill was stalled in the House.

Mary co-sponsored Community Colleges – Dually Enrolled Students – Tuition Waiver (HB 0982), exempting dually enrolled students from payment of tuition to attend community college and authorizing a community college to establish guidelines concerning the type of dual enrollment courses that will qualify for the tuition waiver. This bill was stalled in the House.

Mary co-sponsored the Edward T. Conroy and Jean B Cryor Memorial Scholarship Programs (HB 0963), which provide scholarships for the son or daughter or the surviving spouse of a school employee who died in the line of duty or who sustained an injury in the line of duty that rendered the school employee 100% disabled. This bill became law on May 2nd 2013.

Mary co-sponsored Educational Institutions – Personal Electronic Account – Privacy Protections (HB 1332), prohibiting an educational institution from requiring, requesting, suggesting, or causing a student or a prospective student to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of the individual’s personal electronic account. This bill was stalled in the House.

Mary co-sponsored the Baltimore City Public Schools Construction and Revitalization Act (HB 0860), allowing up to $1.1 billion in bonds to finance construction and capital improvement projects for Baltimore City public school facilities in accordance with a specified 10-year plan for Baltimore City Schools. This bill became law on May 16th 2013.

2012 Session

Mary co-sponsored the Higher Education Workforce Equity Act (HB 972), which provides collective bargaining rights to tenured or tenure-track faculty, adjunct faculty, and graduate students in specified public institutions of higher education. After the University System of Maryland announced a “meet and confer” process in response to the legislation, the bill was pulled from the Senate.

Mary co-sponsored the Baltimore City – School Construction – Block Grant (HB 304) that would provide Baltimore City schools with a specified block grant for construction each year. While the bill has been stalled, its potential impact is scheduled for study before the 2013 Session.

Mary co-sponsored Education – Age for Compulsory Public School Attendance – Exemptions (HB 373), which changes the age one must attend public school regularly from 16 to 17. This bill passed in the House with a vote of 88-49 and received a favorable report in the Senate, although a vote was not taken.

Mary co-sponsored Education – Task Force to Explore Incorporating the Subject of Agriculture in Existing Curricular Areas (HB 680), promoting and incorporating education about sustainable agriculture into science curricula. This bill became law on May 22, 2012.

Community Action & Advocacy in the 43rd

BEC fight for Baltimore City School funding

March 2012, BEC fight for Baltimore City School funding

Students, teachers, parents, community members, and partner organizations gathered in Annapolis to fight for public school funding in Baltimore City. (Right to Left) City College High School teacher Leslie Friewald, and students Sophia Lowe and Alexandria Leonard celebrate their classmate N’della Seck’s speech for better funding. (GHCC Photo by Dag)


 February 2013, Rally in Annapolis for Baltimore City School Construction

Around 3,000 Baltimore residents gathered in Annapolis to show support for the “Block Grant Bill” (HB 0860), which would begin plans to renovate or rebuild all Baltimore schools over the next ten years. The rally featured performances by students from city elementary and middle schools, as well as speakers such as Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The rally was planned by the ACLU of Maryland, the BEC, and Transform Baltimore. The Block Grant Bill became law in May 2013. (Photo by Corey Grisson, Jr., Patterson Press).


February 2015, Organizing Protests Against Governor Hogan’s Cuts to Public School Funding
A rally sponsored by the ACLU and the BEC gathered outside of Waverly Elementary and Middle School to protest $35 million in budget cuts to Baltimore City schools. The proposed cuts could result in over 400 teachers being laid off and would otherwise damage conditions for students. (Photo by Mary Wiltenburg, WYPR).