Better schools? Try less standardized testing

Providing more money for schools won’t matter if the money is wasted (“Maryland education commission’s ambitious proposal for new state aid for schools is delayed another year,” Dec. 19). This session. the General Assembly should grab the low-hanging fruit of limiting, by statute, Maryland State Department of Education testing to one day a year. This law would save millions of dollars while improving public schools. Nothing prevents Maryland from meeting our federal testing requirements in a single morning except the arbitrary decisions of the entrenched testing bureaucracy and their for-profit contractors. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

Don't give up on Pimlico

There is no doubt that Baltimore is suffering on many levels today — too many to enumerate in this space. However, please keep in mind that the city is not going anywhere and will be here with its landmarks, institutions, neighborhoods and people in the future. To turn our back on one of our assets, one with substantial national recognition at this difficult point in our history, is not sound long term thinking (“Keeping Preakness at Pimlico doesn’t add up,” Jan. 4). (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

Steuart Pittman: We're listening to the people, not the fearmongering

I’ve been county executive for a month. I’ve learned some things and look forward to learning more. Our county government has good staff. We have smart, experienced, hard-working people leading most departments, and they don’t care what political party their boss comes from. They are here to serve the public, and that’s why I’ve kept so many in their jobs. Yes, there is waste in government. I am keeping a chopping block list. I don’t need a county car. I won’t pay $15,000 to rent a cabana at a resort in Las Vegas during the International Council of Shopping Centers Conference. And I won’t spend $600,000 on an environmental study of a privately owned rubble landfill that the County Council hasn’t approved buying, and probably never will. (Capital)

Read Full Article

Dan Rodricks: Baltimore's need for more police officers, measured in square miles

We are coming up on one year since Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh fired Kevin Davis as police commissioner. Darryl De Sousa took over in mid-January but only lasted four months; he somehow got the mayor’s nomination and the City Council’s confirmation without having filed federal income tax returns for 2013, 2014 and 2015. Gary Tuggle took charge in May. He has served competently as an interim commissioner since then, and crime dropped a bit on his watch. But, alas, Tuggle pulled himself out of the running for the full-time job in October. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

Morris Kleiner, Evgeny Vorotnikov: Maryland’s dead-weight occupational licensing laws cost the state a fortune

Maryland has some of the most burdensome occupational licensing laws in the country. On average, the state’s licenses for lower-income occupations require $288 in fees, an exam and nearly a year and a half of education and experience. That’s a great deal of time and money Marylanders are spending earning government licenses instead of a living, and it has some in Annapolis questioning whether these licensing barriers are worth the cost to Maryland’s workers. Our new study, conducted in partnership with the Institute for Justice, provides fresh cause for concern. (Wash. Post)

Read Full Article

Dawinder S. Sidhu: Supreme Court must right wrong striking down Md.'s drug price-gouging statute

Before the Supreme Court is a case that pits the Martin Shkrelis of the pharmaceutical industry against Maryland residents in need of life-saving medications. The case lies at the intersection of three realities. First, Marylanders with acute medical conditions, ranging from cancer to diabetes, rely on certain medications to live. Second, pharmaceutical companies have hiked the prices for specific life-saving medications. (For example, Mylan, the company with exclusive rights to distribute Epipen, a primary treatment for severe allergies, raised the price of a two-pack of injections by over 500 percent from $94 in 2007 to $609 in 2014). Third, market forces have failed to drive down prices for these medications, enabling opportunistic companies to set sky-high prices without competitive restraint. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article

Joel Dunn: This 'half measure' might be enough to save bay for next generation

Eighteen million people call the Chesapeake Bay watershed home. That means we have 18 million reasons to protect this landscape and, incidentally, we will have an additional 4 million reasons by 2050. If we don’t increase our focus on protecting and restoring the Chesapeake, our children and grandchildren won’t experience the same Bay that we do today — full of wildlife, history and wonder. The World Wildlife Fund recently released a startling report that said, on average, we have seen a 60 percent decline in the world’s mammal, bird, fish, reptile and amphibian populations since 1970. (Daily Times)

Read Full Article

If Fitzgerald wants the job of Baltimore's top cop, he needs to come and win it

The fact that people lined up in a 48-3 ratio Saturday to question if not outright oppose Fort Worth, Texas, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald’s nomination to be our next police commissioner shouldn’t lead him or Mayor Catherine Pugh to conclude that his is an inherently lost cause. The ingredients are all there for people to be concerned enough to show up at a City Council hearing to cast doubt on him — distrust in the Baltimore Police Department, frustration at high crime, some questions about his record. But is theirs an informed opinion about Mr. Fitzgerald’s merits? No. How could it be? They have no first-hand knowledge of the man. (Balt. Sun)

Read Full Article