The Kirwan Commission’s numbers for supporting Maryland's schools are big and understandably daunting. Del. Johnny Mautz has expressed his concern by citing the “unique needs of Eastern Shore students” and suggesting “our schools are different from those on the western shore.” We may need more. What are those needs and differences?
Maryland spends as much or more than other states on education, but Easton High School was recently ranked 87th in Maryland and 3,961st in national rankings for their Advanced Placement scores. Despite a recent boost in education spending, could Talbot County still be spending less per pupil than nearly every other county in Maryland?
It is a well-documented fact that a stable home environment supports positive academic performance. It would therefore seem that addressing extreme levels of income inequality could not only contribute to family stability, it could benefit students and local government budgets. And thanks to Maryland lawmakers, we'll be raising our minimum wage to $15 over the next few years.
Meanwhile, it’s hardly any wonder our nation is experiencing conflict and division. Our president is telling us that 3% wage growth is our "fastest in decades.” We enjoy hearing good news, but inflation adjusted wages peaked in the 1970s, fell as we experienced more conservative leadership, moved again in a positive direction beginning in the mid-1990s, were raised by the Fair Minimum Wage Act of the 2007 Democratic Congress, topped 4% growth and continue to grow faster in states that have raised minimum wages.
Our level of income inequality is setting records, though. It reached its highest level in half a century in 2018 (Census Bureau). The gap between our highest incomes and incomes that have barely kept up with inflation has narrowed slightly over the past year. A tight labor market brings higher wages, but due to tax cuts our wealthiest are still benefitting most (Gini index).
We also have the highest level of income inequality among industrialized nations and a lot of angry citizens. It’s a good thing we're interested educating our children.