I listened to Martin O’Malley’s State of the State speech. It was cute. Crafted more and more each year to sound like a presidential State of the Union rather than an actual assessment on where the State stands and where it is going. Of course, that is the point. State of the State speeches, because they are covered by so much press, are going to turn in to a campaign speech of personal successes. Governor O’Malley listed off a litany of things Maryland was number one in (many debatable depending on the source) but did not address any of the areas that Maryland needs to grow unless it fit his pre-constructed agenda.
Governor O’Malley wants to continue to point out that Maryland was ranked number one in education by Education Week, Mark Newgent notes on his twitter feed that Education Week places more emphasis on per pupil spending than achievement, the disparity gap between the poor and the rich is one of the worst in the country. This has always been O’Malley’s Achilles heel since he was Mayor of Baltimore. He would brag about the top 5 schools in the City because Baltimore allows the best and brightest from each school to transfer to magnet schools so that they can learn and not be held back by those that are “not engaged”. The flip side of this argument is that those kids that are “not egaged” are left behind with no options and in a system that doesn’t care because they can point to their gifted and talented and claim success.
He touted the follow through graduation rates in college, not just getting kids to college, but having them graduate is an excellent achievement and the Governor is right, that is the true measure of success; not just getting the kids in the door, but getting them through. So if we use that same logic that the Governor is touting for higher education, and move it down to high school graduation, Maryland’s number one educational system, that we spend more on than any other state, becomes a more mundane 14. Still better than average and better than all our neighbors, but not the exemplary standard that the Governor wants to pretend it is. (We’re behind Texas in graduation rates even though it is 42nd when it comes to per pupil spending)
But carrying logic through is not a strong suit for the O’Malley Administration. This week Lt. Governor Anthony Brown announced their plan for “Health Enterprise Zones” in order to bring in more health practitioners to underserved areas. How will they encourage more doctors to serve in rural and urban areas? By giving them extreme tax breaks. Does this mean that the O’Malley Administration is admitting that taxes hurt businesses and jobs?
Last point to make, I think we need a new nickname for the Lt. Governor. I noticed that Anthony Brown’s twitter feed is entirely a collection of retweets or restating whatever O’Malley’s is. He is the parrot for O’Malley, unable to develop a platform of his own, but simply trying to get elected by saying he will continue to work of the O’Malley administration. It may work, but after 8 years will Democratic Primary voters be more interested in someone else than of continuing down this path.