Maryland State Board of Education’s Newest Members Support Charters, Vouchers, High-Stakes Testing

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Update on May 22, 2015: The post has been edited to reflect clarification received in response to a query about Bellwether Education Partners.

100_3383The Maryland State Department of Education has announced the appointment of two new members to the Maryland State Board of Education. Governor Hogan has selected Chester E. Finn, Jr., Ed.D. of Montgomery County and Andy Smarick of Queen Anne’s County to replace Charlene M. Dukes and Donna Hill Staton, whose terms ended last year.

Chester Finn is Chairman of the K-12 Education Task Force of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute. According to the Hoover Institute’s website, the Education Task Force promotes “systematic reform options such as vouchers, charter schools, and testing.” Click here to find analyses that Finn wrote for the Hoover Institute, generally avowing the importance of “results-based accountability” and testing. Finn is also President Emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank with ties to the Gates Foundation that supports education reforms such as the Common Core State Standards, school choice, and accountability testing.

In January, Finn wrote an article for the New York Daily News praising Governor Cuomo’s education-reform agenda, calling it “awesome” and “union-unfriendly.” Cuomo’s agenda included “revamped (and tougher) teacher evaluations, more charters, a state-level version of the Dream Act,” but the item that Finn singles out for special attention is a tax-credit scholarship program for families to send their children to private schools. Praising the governor’s proposed voucher program, Finn writes that “school-choice advocates — and those who care more about the education of children than the interests of adults — should celebrate and applaud.”

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