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Maryland Blueprint Discriminates in Equal Access to Prekindergarten Education Across the State

On December 13, 2022, a presentation was made at a Wicomico County Board of Education meeting by Dr. Rick Briggs, Chief Academic Officer of Wicomico County Public Schools in relation to prekindergarten. Briggs is tasked with the implementation of Maryland's Blueprint for Wicomico County Public Schools. During the presentation, a major issue was discovered that clearly demonstrates unequal and inequitable access to education as a result of socioeconomic discrimination. This applies to every county throughout Maryland.

"The Blueprint establishes a significant expansion of free full-day prekindergarten to low-income families so that all children can begin kindergarten ready to learn."

"Prekindergarten will be free to all 3 and 4-year-olds whose parents meet income eligibility requirements and will be offered on a sliding scale to all other 4-year-olds."

How can all children be kindergarten ready, if access to prekindergarten is conditional? This is unequal access that discriminates and prioritizes enrollment based on socioeconomic status.

Just 4 days before the presentation, Briggs stated in this news report that “We do not have the capacity to serve all 3 and 4-year-old students in the county we just don’t have the space to do it.” Therefore, preference is given to low-income students.

Most schools and government funded programs have Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination statements. The Wicomico County Board of Education's Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy BOE-GEN-PL-001 states the following:

Upon investigation, Maryland's Blueprint for Maryland's Future has a Prekindergarten Implementation Plan that clearly discriminates against students and their families, creating partiality in its enrollment criteria of public prekindergarten in the state:

Interestingly, the prekindergarten plan above states that the family share "may be waived by the county board." Exactly, What does this mean and who pays the bill? The state, the county government, or the local school district?

Children are children, no matter who they are, who their parents are, what they have, or don't have. The State of Maryland is faced with a major issue of discrimination, and so do all county school districts. They can either adopt Maryland's discriminatory prekindergarten Blueprint and accept funding to establish unequal access to education, or reject it. In other words, a school system must serve all students or none if they are truly providing equitable, inclusive, and equal access in education.

Fellows & Editors

December 14, 2022 Copyright

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