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Tuesday, February 16, 2010:

The Agenda

Microscope likely to bring out education blemishes

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Aaron.jpgPre-snowpocalypse, education was but a blip on the radar screen in Annapolis. In his State of the State address, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) scored an easy applause line with passing mention of Maryland's top billing in Education Magazine and a promise not to cut funding for K-12.

On Monday, however, O'Malley opened what may turn out to be a proverbial can of worms with unions, reversing his stance that Maryland need not tweak its union-friendly tenure and merit pay rules to qualify for coveted federal Race to the Top funds.

Busch photo.jpgAnd Tuesday, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) will introduce legislation designed to crack down on gangs in schools. The measure is sure to test many liberal-minded members of the General Assembly by requiring police, prosecutors and principals to collect and share information on teenagers and even label untold numbers of prepubescents as gang members.

Throw in: bills to expand the list of offenses on which police and schools would share information about students; a bill to make Veteran's Day a school holiday; an effort to require financial literacy education, and a mop-up effort to tamp down the costs of lifting the state's freeze on in-state tuition costs. There's suddenly an entire election-year obstacle course of education issues for lawmakers to maneuver. If the drama Republicans have recently infused into debate over lawmaker pensions costs also morphs into one over teacher pension reform, expect the education debate to only reach new heights.

It may be odd that a state ranked No. 1 in public school education by Education Week could generate much controversy on the topic, or that incumbent lawmakers would bother dissecting what would otherwise seem like a bulletproof accomplishment to tout on the campaign trail, but the post-blizzard agenda in Annapolis appears poised to shine light on whatever blemishes exist.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Mote announces retirement at University of Maryland
Mote.jpg"C.D. Mote Jr., who has led the University of Maryland on a 12-year journey into the top tier of public universities, will resign in August, he said Monday, confident that 'the place is in good shape' and that it is time for someone else to take charge," writes The Post's Daniel de Vise. "In a single generation, U-Md. has gone from being a safety school to the highest level of public higher education, not far behind the University of Virginia and the University of California at Berkeley in academic pedigree. Mote didn't begin the transformation, colleagues said, but he completed it."

O'Malley closeup.jpgO'Malley to push foreclosure mediation bill
"Gov. Martin O'Malley will put the force of his office today behind a plan that would enable struggling homeowners to negotiate better mortgage terms before banks can take their houses," writes The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz and Annie Linskey. "The governor is scheduled to testify before Maryland House and Senate committees on legislation that would create a mandatory mediation process for owners at risk of losing their homes and require lenders to prove they tried to modify a borrower's loan before foreclosing."

Bills target harassing texts and posts
"Harassment using text messages or social networking sites could soon be a crime in Maryland if lawmakers approve two bills making their way through the General Assembly," writes Hayley Peterson in the Washington Examiner in a story headlined: "OMG! Harassing texts, posts could become a crime in Md."

Quotable

Ehrlich hand.jpg"You can't gamble on the air."
-- former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), responding Monday night to fellow Great American Panel member Bob Beckel during an appearance on Hannity's America on FOX News. Beckel had goaded Ehrlich, who remains coy about running again, by saying: "I bet you a thousand bucks right now you're running."

"Would you ever consider her as a running mate?"
-- a caller named "Dennis" posing a question to Ehrlich on his Saturday morning radio show on WBAL about whether Ehrlich's wife and co-host, Kendel, could run for lieutenant governor. Ehrlich never directly answered the question.

"Had a good meeting yesterday with a former Maryland Governor, who just might be elected again as our next Governor in November!"
-- a posting Saturday on the Facebook site of Hogan for Maryland, maintained by Larry Hogan, a former Ehrlich Cabinet secretary who recently ended his own exploratory bid for governor.

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Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each weekday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of the day's top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And Look Ahead, Unspun, News Makers, and Week in Review keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  February 16, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: First newspaper endorsement goes to O'Malley

Comments

I think the education unions and lobbying industry should sit down and shut up. I applaud OMalley for proposing any kind of reforms that might lead to more fed money coming into this cash strapped state. Would they like it better if OMalley said he wants to cut out 12th grade to save the state millions, or would they rather the state some bucks by cutting the expensive pension deals teachers have?

Posted by: VikingRider | February 16, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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