Starting the Public School Year After Labor Day in Maryland, U.S. A.

Analysis on the Executive Order 01.01.2016.09 by Governor Hogan. 

 Is Gov. Hogan’s executive order starting school after Labor Day legal, based on the law and constitution of Maryland?

The Constitution of Maryland does not contemplate the possibility of establishing limits to the laws approved by the General Assembly, including the change of school date and number of school days through an Executive Order from the Governor.

The Constitution empowers the Governor to create or amend and publish Executive Orders in case of a state of emergency, adopting guidelines for State employees and units, establishing units of task forces, and changing the organization of the Executive Branch.

State Government Title 3. Governor and Lieutenant Governor Subtitle 4. Executive Orders Md. State Government Code   3- 401. “Executive Order” defined In this subtitle “executive order” means an order or an amendment or rescission of an order that, over the signature of the Governor: Proclaims or ends a state of emergency or exercises the authority of the Governor during an emergency, under Title 14, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article or any other provision of law;[DM1] Establishes a unit, including an advisory unit, study unit, or task force; or Changes the organization of the Executive Branch of the State Government.  

According to the Education Code of Maryland there must be at least 180 school days which should be accomplish through a period of 10 months. I stress the “at least” part since this means a county could increase the number of school days according to its reality, whether economic or social needs, even because a natural disaster.

Education Code of Maryland §7–103. (a) Except as provided in subsections (b), (e), and (f) of this section, each public school under the jurisdiction of a county board:   (1) (i) Shall be open for pupil attendance for at least 180 actual school days and a minimum of 1,080 school hours during a 10–month period in each school year; or   (ii) If normal school attendance is prevented because of conditions described in subsection (b) of this section, shall be open for at least 1,080 hours during a 10–month period;   (2) Shall be open for pupil attendance a minimum of 3 hours during each school day; and   (3) May not be open on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays in order to meet the 180–day or 1,080–hour requirement of this subsection.  

Summing up the Executive Order 01.01.2016.09 should be declared null, for ruling over topics that aren’t listed on article 401 from the Maryland State Government Code; and for establishing a limit to the amount of school days and school calendar organization for seen at the Education Code.

Argument against Executive Order 01. 01. 2016.09

The aim of executive order 01.01. 2016.09 isn’t improving the educational outcomes of the State, it’s objective is to increase the days of summer in order to promote tourism, consumption of seasonal services and products, particularly from Ocean City. Whereas promoting the economic growth of Maryland is a responsibility of the Governor, is also his responsibility to seek the best interest of the whole State, not only based on the economical possibilities brought by a season to one city among 157 cities in Maryland, but according to the needs of all the 24 Counties.

Yes, Ocean City is a touristic site and Governor Hogan is limiting the locals to live from tourism instead of empower students and citizens to pursue a college degree, a career. Increasing summer vacations means more work and less family time, parents cannot afford to leave their children in daycare or summer camps while they are working. More summer days do not mean more family quality time; it doesn’t mean either that high school students from low or middle income families who want to save money for college won’t need to work after school or on weekends through the school year.

Even though the money and taxes collected by the extra days of vacations, would be reinvested in classrooms; those 7.7 USD millions won’t have a better impact in families. Students drop outs and college readiness rates at the whole State show an urgent need of intervention to improve the education outcomes.

Maryland’s report card demonstrate that male dropout increases from 9th year through 12th year of High School, when it doubles or triples the number of students who leave the educational system, this scenario repeats with female students although they are more likely to stay in school. How can economy grow when more than five thousand students by cohort (class of 2015, 2014, etc) drop out of school? Between class of 2010 and class of 2015, there are 39450 students who have dropped out of school.[1]

Regarding to College Readiness according to the Maryland Report Card and data of local assessment and standards about 95% of students are ready for college[2], meanwhile national rankings say Maryland high schools’ college readiness is very low[3].

US News published the Best High Schools Ranking of 2016 last April, where Maryland is the best state over all, however the best High School from Maryland ranks on place #63 in the National Ranking and there are 6 counties which have a college readiness rate under 20 (college readiness is rated over 100). The first high school to appear on the US News ranking for 2016 is from Bethesda, MD. Montgomery County Public Schools. The three high schools form Worcester County – Oceana City – are far from the top 10 High Schools in Maryland and even further from the National Rankings.[4] 

College readiness is an index that shows students who graduate from high school have basic literacy skills and have approved an assortment of basic subjects: English, Math, Science, Second Language, in example (Greene & Forster, 2003). Students who drop out during high school, won’t be ready or able to course through a four years college diploma.

District[5] College Readiness Mathematics Proficiency English Proficiency
Allegany County Public Schools 30.0 81% 79%
Anne Arundel County Public Schools 42.7 92% 87%
Baltimore City Public Schools 11.3 54% 52%
Baltimore County Public Schools 28.9 87% 86%
Calvert County Public Schools 35.1 96% 93%
Caroline County Public Schools 22.1 90% 84%
Carroll County Public Schools 36.4 93% 87%
Cecil County Public Schools 22.1 94% 82%
Charles County Public Schools 27.5 92% 90%
Dorchester County Public Schools 17.4 80% 73%
Frederick County Public Schools 40.8 95% 92%
Garrett County Public Schools 18.4 98% 97%
Harford County Public Schools 28.0 92% 88%
Howard County Public Schools 45.0 95% 91%
Kent County Public Schools 17.8 88% 83%
Montgomery County Public Schools 55.9 89% 87%
Prince George’s County Public Schools 19.7 67% 70%
Queen Anne’s County Public Schools 29.2 95% 90%
Somerset County Public Schools 10.7 82% 81%
St. Mary’s County Public Schools 27.5 91% 84%
Talbot County Public Schools 31.3 86% 84%
Washington County Public Schools 30.1 96% 91%
Wicomico County Public Schools 23.2 86% 78%
Worcester County Public Schools 23.9 96% 91%

An education policy driven by the interest to improve the education system and educational outcomes would increase school days instead of reducing them; it would also create programs to support students from low income families or with low grades improving their skills, understanding drawing them the possibility of studying a career in college, as they would be capable of passing standardized test as well of attending classes they will understand.

The State of Maryland has an education policy driven by the interest to improve the education system and educational outcomes, there are some programs as PTECH, SEEDS, STEM, LYNX, these programs have been approved and considered by the General Assembly in the State’s Budget. These programs have another common point: flexibility of school calendar in order to increase school days, school hours or summer school according to the school and local education system needs. Finally, dates and due dates for assessment of K- 12 education and the finding reports have been established by law; this has an impact in the school calendar.

The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education from the General Assembly must submit the report on their study of the opportunities to achieve academic proficiency standards, and the “Adequacy of Funding for education” report on December 2016, providing findings and recommendations to the Governor. Hence if one way of increasing education funding is through increasing the amount of summer days, it should be analyzed by this Commission, before the Governor take any action as the Executive Order released on August 30th.

What happens when the school year start date is moved to the first week of September, post Labor Day? Apparently nothing, actually it could be more suitable for teachers who can prepare and plan the school year before it officially starts, then have a break and begin with students after “the end of summer”, all in the same page, with the energy and enthusiasm needed to start a new school year and level.

If school year would end on June 15th 2018 and so on, it would mean that snow days should be recovered on Saturdays, or holidays, also it limits the possibility of increasing the amount of school days for academic purposes, which is allowed by Maryland’s code of education when it establishes “at least 180 days”. Now if the Executive Order would rather say school year should end between the third and fourth week of June, it could also be open to increasing days of school if necessary.

The fact that E.O. 01.01.2016.09 is a decision based on the best interest of only one county in the whole State – Worcester County- shows the lack of equity in the governance of Maryland. While the spirit of both the Constitution and the Code of Education is to promote equity and justice to the citizens of Maryland, this E.O obliges to all the Counties to move the start of the school year.

Governor Hogan says this change was supported by different actors and members of the school system, however a simple look at the “Opening and Closing Dates for Maryland Public Schools” for the 2016 – 2017 school year, shows that the only County which prefers to start the school year after Labor Day is Worcester County[6]. So far, before the E.O., local school systems had the faculty to organize their own school calendar, start and end of school year. If other local school systems would like to start school year after Labor Day, then it would reflect on the same document from the Department of Education.

Summary Based on the “Opening and Closing Dates for Maryland Public Schools 2016 – 2017”

School System First Day Last Day
Allegany Aug 23 May 31
Anne Arundel Aug 22 June 14
Baltimore City Aug 29 June 12
Baltimore Aug 24 June 19
Calvert Aug 29 June 15
Caroline Aug 23 June 8
Carroll Aug 29 June 14
Cecil Aug 29 June 13
Charles Aug 29 June 16
Dorchester Aug 24+ June 13
Frederick Aug 22 June 16
Garrett Aug 29 May 30
Harford Aug 25 June 7
Howard Aug 29 June 13
Kent Aug 29# June 13
Montgomery Aug 29 June 16
Prince George’s Aug 23 June 9
Queen Anne Aug 29++ June 14
St. Mary’s Aug 24 June 15
Somerset Aug 29 June 15
Talbot Aug 23 June 9
Washington Aug 17 June 8
Wicomico Aug 29 June 9
Worcester Sept 6 June 16
SEED School Aug 22 June 16

The Executive Order 01.01.2016.09 allows the school boards to present waivers to the State Board of Education. According to the table above, about 90% of the local school systems would process waivers requirements each year, this without taking notice of the adjustments in the school calendar authorized by the State Board due to natural disaster, civil disaster or severe weather conditions.

(b) (1) If a county board submits a written application to the State Board that describes a demonstrated effort by the county board to comply with subsection(a)of this section, the State Board may permit: (i) Adjustments in the length of the school year; (ii) Exceptions from the requirement that the school year be completed within a 10–month period; (iii) Adjustments in the length of the school day; and (iv) Schools to be open on holidays. (2) These adjustments may be granted only if normal school attendance is prevented because of: (i) Natural disaster; (ii) Civil disaster; or (iii) Severe weather conditions.  

How less days of school will help Maryland’s students from lower income families, and schools with lowest college readiness, math and English proficiency? How will these school districts improve the educational outcomes? The end point is either increasing summer days for the Labor Day “venerable traditions” sake, or increasing school days in order to improve Maryland’s educational outcomes and therefor improving the future of its citizens, with more chances to get better jobs, producing more and better quality products and services leading to the economic growth of the State.


[1]Data collected from Maryland Report Card. Last visit: 9/9/2016

http://reportcard.msde.maryland.gov/CohortDropoutRate.aspx?PV=171:12:99:AAAA:1:N:0:13:1:2:1:1:1:1:4

[2] http://mdk12.msde.maryland.gov/instruction/commoncore/index.html

[3] http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/how-states-compare

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/maryland/districts

[4] http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings

[5] Table taken from US. News 2016 Best High Schools Ranking. I’ve shaded the lowest readiness rates.

[6] http://marylandpublicschools.org/about/Documents/SchoolOpeningsClosings20162017.pdf

Last access: September 12, 2016.


 [DM1]I still need more research on this article, regarding to guidelines, rules of conduct and rules of procedure. I believe since here it refers to units of the State Government the decisions could apply to the Maryland Department of Education, however, it wouldn’t apply to the local school boards because they are part of the County Government.

Also, when it refers to “Persons who are under the jurisdiction of those employees or units or who deal with them”, it could be applied to teachers and staff, but I hardly think it could support the case of local education systems government and therefore the change in the school calendar by an E.O. instead of a decision of the Education Boards applying the Code of Education.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s