Education has always been the top priority for Senator Zirkin in the General Assembly. Bobby has visited schools all across Baltimore County and has conducted hundreds of assemblies where students debate the hot topics of the day. During his over twelve years in office, Bobby has visited with thousands of students at their schools, spoken at countless graduations, and has provided a constant presence in schools.
On the legislative front, Bobby continues to push for education reform, stressing issues such as class size reduction, new school construction in Northwest Baltimore County, teacher training, teacher salary enhancements, enhanced summer school, and child welfare reform in juvenile services and social services.
Several years ago, the Legislature passed landmark education legislation known as The Thornton Commission on Education Finance, Equity, and Excellence, or the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act. This law combined a number of State programs and created block educational grants for each of Maryland's counties. Despite challenging economic times, Maryland has maintained its commitment to our schools by continuing to fully fund the Thornton Commission. As further evidence of that commitment, Maryland continues to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars for much needed school construction projects.
Maryland Public Schools earned the top national ranking in Education Week's Quality Counts Annual Report in 2009 and again in 2010. In addition, Maryland ranked first in the nation in student passage rates for Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Senator Zirkin continues to work hard to maintain our progress in funding the public school system.
The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2009 assured that higher education would be kept affordable and the State's budget assured a fourth consecutive year of tuition freezes for in-state tuition within the University System. Community Colleges and Independent Colleges and Universities were held harmless in the last budget process. The continuing transfer to the State Department of Education of all Department of Juvenile Services Education Facilities stayed on track. Finally, the Legislature commissioned a study to improve financial literacy for students in Maryland.
On the local front, Bobby has fought hard for the construction of a middle school in Owings Mills. A 54 acre parcel of State-owned land in Owings Mills has been set aside for use as a site for a new school. At this point, Baltimore County officials must finalize the deal with the State. Senator Zirkin will continue to press the case with County officials.
Through personal and legislative achievement, Bobby exemplifies true leadership for Baltimore County and Maryland schools.