By Van Smith
Baltimore, Feb. 27, 2019
Our nine year old yesterday delivered two minutes of testimony before the Maryland House of Delegates Appropriations Committee. I, of course, barely held back tears. You can see why here, at 22:25. The packed room erupted in applause when she was done. As a used-to-be reporter who’s attended lots of legislative committee hearings, I assure you that is unusual.
Testifying on behalf of her school was her idea. She didn’t know at the outset that she’d be the one doing it, much less that she’d end up on the governor’s panel, presenting along with Larry Hogan’s senior aide, Keiffer Mitchell Jr. As she read aloud to the committee, including its chair, state Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore City, I recalled that some of the best words she’d written herself. As pride welled up, somehow I kept myself from openly weeping when the two minutes ended.
(The testimony, as seen by Appropriations Committee member Brooke Lierman, who snapped this photo on her phone and sent it to me.)
I commit this here to posterity because I want to get to it handily as the years go by. Unless I’m wrong, the issue she stepped up for yesterday – asking for state money to cover facilities costs that public charter schools, like hers, currently pay for with privately raised funds that could be used instead for instruction – is but her first. It strikes me that organizing for fair public school funding while you’re still a student is an apt primer for facing the many changes awaiting her generation.