O’Malley, whose second and final term as governor of Maryland ends in January, discussed his contributions to Maryland’s higher education system in a April 29 roundtable with college reporters.
In the governor’s two terms, he made comprehensive investments in secondary and higher education a top priority. From freezing college tuition for four straight years during the recession to making targeted, strategic investments in new academic research facilities and programs throughout the University of Maryland System.
O’Malley reported that, “since 2007, Maryland has ranked #1 in the country for holding down the cost of tuition.”
While his administration has made remarkable accomplishments, the governor admits that work still needs to be done for the future of higher education. The future of college-level learning should not follow the traditional model, “which pays universities according to how many lecture halls they can fill up,” O’Malley said, but should instead focus on competency-based learning by “embracing technology and new ways to deliver a curriculum.”
The O’Malley-Brown administration has taken steps to achieve competency-based learning, with the signing of the College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013. This act covers the tuition cost for low-income high school students to take dual enrollment college classes free of charge while lowering the cost for other students.
“Allowing students to earn more college credits and getting them prepared early will help to bolster four-year graduation rates,” stated O’Malley. He also noted that this method helps to make college more affordable.
O’Malley reflected on his regrets during his administration’s tenure. Under his control, O’Malley wished that the state was able to “expand on the number of students benefiting from a Career and Technology Education curriculums, such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics),” he says.
While the amount of STEM graduates increased by 25% and achieved record AP Stem Participation, he noted that “the state and the university system are looking to strengthen the number of students enrolled in STEM programs to keep up with the growing market demand for these skill sets.”
For Maryland’s future, O’Malley argued that “the push for education in STEM-related fields is important.”
The governor noted that his biggest regret during his tenure was seeing “the lack of substantial outcomes for students who don’t go to college and instead aim for a career and technical education.”
He also acknowledged that “pushing college attendance on those who can’t afford it isn’t going to pay your tuition bill.”
O’Malley said that he hopes to see Maryland’s education system “move toward a model that allows for students to become adept in a marketable, in-demand skill and graduate high school with a certificate in that skill. This will bolster the value of a high school diploma.”
On his legacy as a governor, O’Malley stated that it is marked by the good that he has done for the state.
“The only thing that lasts in this world is being good to other people. The good that we have done for others in these eight years range across the spectrum of actions that are only possible in a government that is intentional and performance measured, as well as well-led.”
O’Malley is considering a 2016 presidential bid “with the intent of being ready should Hillary Clinton not run,” a source close to the governor told CNN.
Of his post-gubernatorial intentions, he said, “No politician sets out to run for vice president.”