Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced the state is doubling down on a program that helps students pay for nonpublic school tuition during a visit to Bais Yaakov School for Girls.
The state-funded program, Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST), would gradually see its funding increase from $5 million to $10 million by 2020 under Hogan’s plan, he told hundreds of students, faculty and parents.
BOOST, which was signed into law by Hogan during the 2016 legislative session, provides scholarships for low-income students to attend nonpublic schools in areas with under-performing public schools.
Hogan said this latest initiative shows that his administration continues to make education a top priority, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd. In his speech, Hogan pointed out that no governor in state history has spent more on K-12 education.
“We’re working hard to ensure every single child in the state of Maryland is given the chance to get a great education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” Hogan said. “We owe it to our children to find new and innovative ways and solutions to make sure everyone gets those opportunities.”
This past year, nearly $5 million in scholarship funds were provided to more than 200 nonpublic and private schools.
In the Jewish community alone, more than 700 students from nine Jewish day schools, including 209 at Bais Yakkov, were awarded scholarships that exceeded $1 million.
Hogan said the Jewish day school community “led a very aggressive campaign, suggesting families take advantage of the opportunity.”
All told, more than 5,000 applications were submitted.
Before making the announcement, Hogan paid a visit to Chana Kagan’s 11th grade Advanced Placement history class to test students on their knowledge of state government-related issues.
Daniella Friedman, 16, posed a question to the governor regarding his decision to push back the start of the public school year to after Labor Day and was left impressed by his candor.
“He showed that he was really passionate about what he was saying,” Friedman said. “He’s a great governor, and it was really nice to have him in our school. He just has a way of bringing everyone together.”
Kagan, meanwhile, prepared her students a week in advance with lessons on the responsibilities of state governors to ensure they were well prepared for anything Hogan threw their way.
In her 25-plus years teaching at Bais Yaakov, Kagan said she has had numerous guest speakers for her classes but no one of Hogan’s stature.
“A lot of politicians kiss babies, but there is a feeling I get from him that he really cares,” Kagan said. “He’s a man of principle, and I think other people recognize that. It’s a very attractive quality in a politician and good to know he has it.”
Read next week’s JT for a feature on the BOOST program.