By PETER DANIELS — Hyattsville residents have engaged in a vigorous debate recently over the location of a desperately needed new middle school. As students prepare for a new year of learning, I want everybody in our community to be aware of another crucial education debate that will play out over the next few months at the state capitol in Annapolis.

This upcoming session, lawmakers will decide whether to enact an ambitious education plan that promises to put Maryland back at the top of the list of high-achieving school systems and make us internationally competitive. Our district, whose population includes many students who are considered low income or receive special education services, stands to benefit significantly. 

The plan, by a group called the Kirwan Commission, focuses on critical areas like early education; teacher recruitment; retention and diversity; and college and career readiness, while also correcting Maryland’s flawed education funding formula.

Those who worry about the cost of reforming education should think about the return on investment that benefits us all, including a more prosperous tax base, lower crime rates, and communities that are attractive to job creators. That is why we cannot let pessimistic voices dominate the debate. We as a community must advocate on behalf of our children and their teachers because these reforms are critical to our long-term success as a city, county and state.

As a steering committee member with Strong Schools Maryland, I will be working with local parent-teacher organizations, our school board and other leaders to make sure state lawmakers understand that full education funding is our top priority. I hope you will join me in this effort.

Peter Daniels is a Hyattsville resident, co-regional leader for Strong Schools Maryland – Prince George’s County, and the father of two girls who attend Prince George’s County Public Schools.