Paul Pinsky: Chicken of the Senate

In what can only be characterized as gutless and cowardly move, Senator Paul Pinsky and the leadership of the Maryland General Assembly are ramming through legislation to overturn Governor Larry Hogan’s wildly popular executive order starting school after Labor Day.

The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee chaired by Pinksy voted 7-4 to move the bill to the floor, and it’s on the rocket docket for passage on Tuesday.

At least they didn’t “vote in the lounge” on this one.

Governor Hogan has offered a sensible and common sense alternative that would provide true local control by triggering a local referendum on any attempt by school boards to start school prior to Labor Day. The decision would be in the hands of the people, not unaccountable bureaucrats like the ones who went to jail for corruption and looked the other way at kids in sweltering classrooms, mold-ridden learning environments, and rampant grading scandals.

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Here’s a brief history that bears repeating:

  • In 2013 the General Assembly  voted 170-7 to create a bipartisan task force to study the issue.
  • The task force of teachers, administrators, PTA members and legislators found that there would be no impact on student education and voted 12-3 to recommend starting school after Labor Day
  • Senate President Mike Miller supported the idea.
  • Governor O’Malley supported starting school after Labor Day. At the September 3, 2014 Board of Public Works meeting he told Comptroller Franchot he’d sign the petition supporting starting school after Labor Day “I’ll sign. I’m for that. In fact, I’ve been tempted to do an executive order extending summer by another month.”
  • A bipartisan group of more than 57 legislators sponsored legislation over several years to codify starting school after Labor Day.

Pinsky, a former teacher teacher who quit his job in order to become a full time Teacher’s Union organizer, is the body man for Senate President Miller and Speaker Busch to do the bidding of the bureaucrats of the education establishment and thwart the will of an overwhelming majority of Marylanders and the parents, students and teacher they are ostensibly paid (with taxpayer money) to serve.

So, why now? The Governor’s 2016 executive order has been in place for two years. If this was such a top priority for the education establishment why not overturn it in the 2017 legislative session, or the 2018 session.

The answer is quite simple: They did not want to bring this up anywhere near the time their names were on the ballot.

If Paul Pinksy and his Democratic brethren truly had the courage of their convictions they would have brought this up for a vote two years ago. Sadly, this is little more than another example of the craven nature behind the General Assembly’s behavior.

Still, this gambit may be too clever by half. Governor Hogan has threatened to petition Pinsky’s bill should the legislature override his veto. This would put the issue before all the people of Maryland, who overwhelmingly support starting school after Labor Day. And Governor Hogan is already putting pressure on the Democrats who have supported him on this issue in the past to not cave to pressure from the Democratic muldoons and the teacher’s union leaders who pull their strings.

When that happens, two years from now, we’ll see if they finally get the memo.

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