Education is the cornerstone of thriving and resilient communities – and prosperous ones. It is also the foundation for our state’s economy. Brooke is a proud public-school graduate and parent and believes that every child in Maryland not only has the right to an exceptional education, but needs this foundation to ensure that our state can grow and thrive in the future. Every community deserves to have a local school that offers an exceptional education for all students; that provides a safe and supportive gathering place for the community; and that reflects and celebrates the vibrant culture of the community, of our state, and of our nation. Equity, opportunity, accountability, and excellence are the cornerstones of a strong educational system that will cultivate our next generation of leaders and thinkers.
Maryland has a once in a generation opportunity to dramatically change our public education system into a globally competitive system. Brooke strongly supports the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and restorative funding for Maryland’s Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), both passed by the General Assembly in 2020. As a State Delegate, Brooke will work to override the Governor’s vetoes of these significant pieces of legislation in the 2021 legislative session. As Comptroller and a member of the Board of Public Works (BPW), she will continue to support and advocate for these measures and provide the needed independent oversight of their implementation.
All students deserve to learn in safe and innovative school buildings. As Comptroller, Brooke will improve the transparency of the Capital Improvement Program to provide more equitable and targeted use of taxpayer funds, especially through school construction funding. She will also advocate for and support innovative public/private partnership efforts to bridge the digital divide and expand affordable broadband access to all Marylanders.
Maryland students deserve to leave high school ready to enter the next phase in their life. Brooke will use data collected by the Comptroller’s Office to ensure that Maryland 529 College Savings Plans are useful and accessible tools that improve college access for all Marylanders. She will ensure oversight and transparency of the State’s Guaranteed Access Grant program. Brooke will help build early investment programs that provide children with expanded opportunities and increased financial stability as they reach adulthood.
One of the most influential factors on a student’s academic achievement is access to high quality teachers. Every child deserves to have highly qualified teachers with diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. Brooke supports the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which will ensure our teachers are paid competitive and attractive wages with meaningful opportunities for career advancement. In addition, Brooke will advocate for the expansion and reimagination of Maryland teacher training and preparation programs to attract and retain highly qualified teachers. Brooke is calling for an expansion of current recruitment practices to better diversity our education workforce.
Healthy development starts long before a child enters kindergarten. Children who have access to healthy and supportive daycare environments and high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are better prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn. Children who enter kindergarten with strong social emotional and academic foundations are more likely to continue that success throughout their schooling, are less likely to become involved with crime or drugs, and are more likely to have a stable job post high school and college. Brooke will support pre-kindergarten expansion opportunities to all families and will ensure that family income does not provide an unnecessary barrier to quality programs.
With the cost of college doubling every nine years, children entering kindergarten today will face astronomically high loan bills upon college graduation. Many Maryland families have incomes too low to contribute to higher education savings plans and too high to benefit from needs based grant programs. Those with a college education earn higher wages, are more resilient to economic downturns, are more likely to own their own home, and are more likely to have better health outcomes over time.
However, for many recent college graduates, college debt can be crushing. Students of color are disproportionately impacted and leave college with significantly higher debt to income ratios. Improving college access and affordability is a low cost investment that has high returns for Maryland’s housing, economic, retail, and health sectors. Brooke is committed to making college more affordable for all Marylanders. As a result in February 2022, Brooke presented legislation (HB 734) to make more financial aid available for low and middle-income students going to college. The bill increases funding for our state’s two major financial aid programs, the Educational Excellence Award and the Guaranteed Access Grant, to mandate at least $112,000,000 per year to financial aid grants to students.
As Comptroller, she will support specialized college tuition and loan relief programs that will attract and retain employees to critically needed careers in Maryland. She will advocate for an expansion of tax relief credits and for the tax deductibility of tuition, fees, and student loan interest. She will encourage state colleges to explore new funding sources and will explore programs that incentivize businesses to pay down employee student loan debts. Further, she will seek creative solutions that expand the Maryland Promise Scholarship and that incentivize businesses who provide scholarships, field work, and internships.
In 2021, more than 10,000 signatures were gathered supporting a mandatory course in financial literacy at the high school level. According to EverFi, “Practical real world skill-sets around personal finances were not necessarily emphasized in the curriculum in previous generations, but in recent years, financial literacy for students has moved to the forefront of discussions with the hopes of addressing the gap in the current curriculum.” Recognizing this, by 2020, twenty one school systems across the country required financial literacy as part of their high school curriculum. At this time, Maryland is not one of those states. As Comptroller, Brooke will call for the addition of financial literacy standards to Maryland’s curriculum.