State education board VP resigns over governor's Labor Day mandate

Posted at 8:28 AM, Oct 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-26 14:16:28-04

Maryland Board of Education Vice President S. James Gates is resigning from the board in response to Governor Larry Hogan's executive order mandating that public schools start after Labor Day.

Gates is a mathematics professor at the University of Maryland and has been a member of the board for seven years. He announced his resignation Tuesday, Oct. 25 in a letter to Hogan.

"When I accepted to serve, it was my understanding the laws of Maryland were very clear about the independence and the authority of the State Board of Education with regard to policy in this domain," he said in the letter. "I agreed to serve under those conditions."

Hogan signed an executive order mandating that all public schools begin the school year after Labor Day and end by June 15.

RELATEDGov. Larry Hogan signs executive order mandating schools start after Labor Day

Schools were allowed to apply for exemption waivers, but Hogan amended the order to limit waiver applications.

RELATEDHogan adds waiver details on starting school after Labor Day

Gates wrote that Hogan's executive order "has the remarkable potential to damage both the most at risk and the most ambitious students in Maryland."

He expressed worry that the order could disrupt students' learning and disproportionately affect low-income students.

"There will be years when Labor Day falls a week into September thus also likely diminishing time to achieve mastery," he said. "This is required to enter the most elite colleges and universities in the U.S. and to successfully compete with the educational achievement of students in other nations.

"Students in the most at risk environments will likely suffer just as much, if not more debilitating effects from receiving reduced opportunities for learning. There are well documented studies showing the impact of losses in education for this group due to reduced opportunities for learning."

A statement released by Hogan's office thanked Gates and wished him luck.
"The governor looks forward to filling this vacant seat and will do so in the near future. Ultimately, the board members are free to their own opinions, misguided as they are, but it won't stop the governor from doing what the vast majority of Marylanders want to see done and what is clearly right," the statement read.  

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