Kirwan Commission Analysis

Updated: Mar 29, 2020


The Maryland Public Policy Institute published their analysis of the Kirwan Commission on June 25, 2018. Below are their findings.

From 1998 to 2014, Maryland public schools increased spending on operating expenses by $6.47 billion—an increase of $3.8 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. If the state follows the recommendations presented by the Kirwan Commission, a statewide panel that is reevaluating Maryland public school funding, taxpayers can expect to see education spending continue to increase at a rapid rate in the years to come.

The commission has called for an expansion of pre-K programs, increased teacher pay, more rigorous certification requirements for teachers (including pre-K teachers), and a series of other reforms and initiatives. The exact cost of the commission’s recommendations is unknown at the moment but will likely require billions more in funding for Maryland’s public schools.

The Maryland legislature established the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education in 2016. The Commission, comprised of 25 individuals appointed by various policymakers and education organizations, is also called the Kirwan Commission in recognition of commission chair William E. (Brit) Kirwan, who was chosen by the governor, senate president, and house speaker. Other members of the committee include Chester Finn, appointed by the president of the state board of education, and Elizabeth Ysla Leight, appointed by the Maryland PTA.[1]

Lawmakers established the commission for two reasons. First was to “review the findings of the Study on Adequacy of Funding for Education in the State of Maryland.” [2] In 2000 and 2001, Augenblick, Palaich and Associates conducted an adequacy study for the state. The report provided suggestions for revising the state’s funding system. Following the release of the report, the legislature passed the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act 2002. That legislation led to a new funding formula and a significant increase in education funding.

The act also called for a follow-up study to be conducted approximately 10 years after the act was established.[3] The follow-up study, also conducte