As a Marylander who hasn't done much for his state, I was honored to serve on this commission, which was appointed by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and chaired by Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele. Though a large, Noah's Ark-ish assemblage, its talented members worked hard and came forth with 30 recommendations for overhauling K-12 education in a state that has been wary of major reforms but that needs them. The policy advice ranges from plain vanilla (more parent involvement, seamless early childhood services), through pistachio (a statewide school-ratings system, a close review of all teacher preparation programs), to rocky road (differential pay for teachers, a much stronger charter school law). Then there are recommendations (e.g. a fully portable pension system) that would be welcomed and applauded anywhere but public education, whose astoundingly conservative leaders immediately balked. So far, in fact, reactions (at least those reported by the papers) have been absolutely predictable, with every interest group and politician saying exactly what you would expect. I second the governor's recommendation to them: How about reading the report first. It runs 50 pages but has a good executive summary of the key suggestions.

"Lt. Governor Releases Guidelines for Md. Schools," by Daniel de Vise, Washington Post, September 15, 2005

"Teachers union critical of report by Steele panel," by Sara Neufeld, Baltimore Sun, September 17, 2005

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