Promoting Youth Employment in Maryland
by George W. Liebmann
Our current governor has paid no attention to the severe problem
of youth unemployment in Maryland. The national rate of youth unemployment
is about twice the general rate of unemployment, and the rate among blacks twice
that among the total youth population: 40 percent, resembling London’s neighborhoods
where there were major civic disturbances among the Afro-Caribbean
population. The proposition that “idle hands do the devil’s work” is familiar: “flash
mobs” have organized on the Internet in American cities like Philadelphia.
Maryland’s September 2009 Report of the Governor’s Workforce Investment
Board noted that the state had 21,000 youth aged 16 through 19 without high
school diplomas who were not in school, two-thirds of whom were unemployed.
Among 20-year-old dropouts, 92 percent were not continuing their education and
only 55 percent were working. Seventy-four thousand Marylanders aged 16 to 24
were out of school and out of work in 2006, a number that has since increased.
Nine percent of the state’s 20 to 24 year olds were institutionalized, including 25
percent of black males in this age grouping.
While Maryland alone cannot cure the macroeconomic causes of youth unemployment,
the state can take steps to alleviate it. Following is a short list of
examples and suggestions:
Industrial Training Programs
While Maryland spends money on its community college system, it has not been a
high priority of the current administration, which instead tends to favor institutions
Employment in Maryland
By George W. Liebmann
The Maryland Journal
whose alumni are politically organized. For example, the anachronistic four-year ‘traditionally
black’ colleges such as Coppin State University, which is high on all lists of
the nation’s ‘dropout academies’ with a graduation rate of less than 20 percent.
Maryland lacks a significant industrial training program tailored to the actual
needs of particular employers. North Carolina, with the third largest community
college system in the country, has a state of the art such program, and makes
available to employers about $1,500 worth of customized training for each qualifying
employee. Its program includes pre-employment assistance, instruction,
training, facilities and equipment, supplies, and materials. Instruction is delivered
either through college employees or through company employees whose
wages are offset against taxes. In some circumstances, the state may subsidize
50 percent of trainees’ wages. Companies creating 12 or more jobs a year may
partake in the program.
In 2008-2009, there were 186 projects with 11,858
trainees at an average cost of $530 per trainee. Funds budgeted for 2009-2010
amounted to $19.5 million.
Maryland’s industrial training program, by contrast, distributes about $2 million
annually in ad hoc grants for workforce training. The program is not integrated
with community colleges, and is reserved for larger employers with several dozen
State Youth Employment Programs
The state of Maryland administers a federal youth workforce development program
budgeted for $16.7 million in FY 2012. Since Department of Labor Licensing and
Regulation administers this program, it is kept separate from both community colleges
and economic development efforts; the program is said to have placed 63
percent of its graduates, in line with but not surpassing national norms. The state
contributes only about $220,000 of general funds to the federal workforce development
programs, expending $43.7 million in federal funds
Under Section 11-602 of the state Labor and Employment article, the state
sponsors a very small summer program for 14 and 15 year-old disadvantaged youth.
Further restrictions require that the participants be paid minimum wage and that
no more than 20 percent of them can be employed in profit-making enterprises.
Section 5-218 of the state Natural Resources article provides for a small Maryland
Conservation Corps, budgeted in FY 2012 to include 625 youth at 17 sites.
The program’s small scale is illustrated in contrast with the market penetration of
the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps. Within three months of its establishment
in April 1933, 250,000 young people were enrolled in the CCC; a Maryland
program of comparable size would have enrolled 5,000. At its peak, 505,000 persons
were enrolled in the CCC; more than five million passed through six-month
to two-year programs in the period 1933-1942. Since the population of both Maryland
and the United States is about 2 1/3 times what it was in 1940, to have com
Promoting Youth Employment in Maryland
parable impact, a Maryland program would need to enroll 12,000 young people at
its inception and 25,000 at its peak.
Promotion of Sub-Minimum Wage
The state of Maryland has done nothing to promote knowledge among employers
of the sub-minimum training wage instituted by the 1996 amendments to the
federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This makes available a $4.25 training wage, compared
to the normal $7.25 minimum wage to employers of persons under the age
of 20 during the first 90 calendar days of their employment. No special certificates
or permits are needed.
Relief from Unemployment Taxation
Maryland’s unemployment taxes on employers range up to 13.5 percent of the base
wage of $8,500.
While limited exemptions provide for term time and summer
work by college students, there are no such provisions for high school dropouts.
Other states provide varied dispensations. North Carolina, for example, excludes
persons referred by the state and discharged within the first 100 days of employment
due to inability to perform work from being charged to the employer’s experience-
rated tax rate.
Recently, the state of Maryland has made available to its own residents enrollment
in University of Maryland University College (UMUC), a state-operated and largely
tuition-financed institution. UMUC is one of the largest American purveyors of
distance learning at the university level, chiefly to armed forces overseas. The cost
to the state per full-time enrolled student at University College is $1,569, versus
$11,909 at University of Maryland, College Park, $5,088 at Towson University, and
$11,909 at Coppin State University.
State law actively discourages the provision of distance learning to high school
students and high school dropouts. The local boards of education, under the influence
of the teachers’ unions, do not offer it, and Section 9-102(12) of the state’s
charter school law, part of the Education article, expressly provides that a public
charter school must “require students to be physically present on school premises
for a period of time substantially similar to that which other public school students
spend on school premises.”
One reason for much youth unemployment is that the relevant young people lack qualifications
for employment. In 2004-2005, 21.1 percent of Baltimore City’s 12th graders
reported use of drugs other than tobacco or alcohol within the preceding month and
19.9 percent reported marijuana use; the statewide numbers, surprisingly, were higher:
The Maryland Journal
26.0 percent for all drugs and 21.9 percent for marijuana. In Queen Anne’s County, an
appalling 11.4 percent of 12th graders reported cocaine or crack use within the past
month, as did 7.7 percent of Allegany County 12th graders.
Maryland schools and colleges characteristically turn a blind eye to drug abuse,
despite Supreme Court decisions upholding school drug testing,
and the Court’s
suggestion that mandatory school drug testing is constitutional. Nonetheless,
schools have been hesitant to embrace mandatory testing for fear of lawsuits and
large fee awards to successful plaintiffs under the Civil Rights Attorneys’ Fees Act.
Supreme Due to the criminal sanctions attached to drug possession, schools are
also fearful of incriminating their students.
Most of the latter fear can be eliminated
if Maryland removes criminal penalties for marijuana possession or converts them
to civil infractions. Maryland only has one or two federal marijuana prosecutions
each year — the United States Attorney’s office sensibly concluded that its limited
resources are best employed for other purposes.
Sensible Maryland legislation would require the state Attorney General to formulate
a protocol for school drug testing, including appropriate safeguards establishing
that records would not be permanent and could not be transmitted to prosecutorial
authorities, and establishing rights to retesting and appropriate limits on
sanctioning of students and definitions of parental rights. A second provision might
require the Attorney General to defend in court at state expense any local regulation
conforming to the protocol that might be challenged there. An analogous state law
requires the Attorney General to defend local regulations whose validity is challenged
under the federal antitrust laws.
In 1997, the Calvert Institute suggested a possible protocol for school drug
testing, which includes screening coordination and standards, testing conditions,
and consequences. “Drug screening of students in particular schools is hereby authorized,
subject to the following conditions:”
Screening must be requested by the principal of the school, after he ascertains
that a consensus for it exists and after giving 30 days’ notice of the
request to all students and parents.
Schools will be screened in the order that requests are received, subject to
limits of available funds, which may include private contributions.
The superintendent shall appoint a screening coordinator qualified in the
fields of medicine or public health, who need not be a municipal employee.
The principal in agreement with the coordinator shall designate the persons
to be screened, who may be chosen by classes, according to objective
academic, attendance, or disciplinary standards, or on the basis of observed
and documented symptoms of drug abuse.
The coordinator shall determine the method of testing; retesting of contested
results shall be provided; no testing shall be conducted at a school
until the principal and coordinator have identified treatment facilities
Promoting Youth Employment in Maryland
including, at a minimum, narcotics anonymous chapters, in reasonable
Positive tests suggesting current drug consumption shall be reported to
students and parents and counseling and references to treatment facilities
given, and such students to be subject to retesting as determined by
Students may not be subjected to discipline for positive tests, but may be
disciplined or transferred for failing to provide evidence of participation
in drug treatment if a positive result is repeated on retesting; the coordinator,
if qualified to do so under state law, may seek civil commitment of
such students to treatment facilities subject to the limitations of state law;
results shall not be disclosed to law enforcement authorities or made part
of a student’s permanent record; the resolution shall expire in 18 months
Promotion of Tax Credits
The exceedingly complicated array of state and federal employment tax credits are
designed to encourage employers to engage members of disadvantaged groups.
Union pressure circumscribes these (unlike the little-known sub-minimum trainee
wage) with pre-certification requirements mandating the submission of forms to
two or more agencies before a credit can be claimed. Since the credits generally
are non-refundable, they are generally useless to service businesses, withdrawing
substantially all their potentially taxable profits.
Chief among the credits has been the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit,
which expired on December 31, 2011. Claiming this credit requires execution of
part of IRS Form 8850 before hiring, followed by mailing in within 28 days of hiring
of ETA Form 9061 to the U.S. Department of Labor. The credit is available for
wages paid to members of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TAN F) or
food stamp families, and to residents of federal empowerment zones, of which there
are several in Maryland. The best-known zone occupies three patches of downtown
Baltimore with about 10 percent of the city’s area and population. Interested
employers must type in addresses on a website to determine if their putative non-
TAN F or food stamp employees are within the charmed circle.
Even more arcane state law provisions providing for job tax credits are contained
in section 10-702 of the Tax-General article. As incentives to youth employment,
these are largely vitiated by a requirement that 150 percent of the minimum
wage be paid.
Section 10-711 of the Tax-General article contains a credit provision for wages paid
to secondary school students in work-based learning programs, such credits being limited
to 15 percent of wages or $1,500 per student, whichever is less. No contractor at a
multi-craft construction site can claim the credit for more than two students. Programs
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must be pre-certified and include no more than 1,000 students in any taxable year.
“Programmed to fail” would be an adequate description of this program.
Science and Technology (STEM) Education
The University of Maryland System has stated its goal to “triple the number of
STEM teachers by 2020.” The Department of Legislative Services’ Analysis of the
Governor Martin O’Malley Administration’s FY 2012 budget pertinently inquires:
“Given that USM projects moderate growth in enrollment and students completing
teaching programs of 4 percent and 2.6 percent respectively by FY 2012, the
Chancellor should comment on the feasibility of USM institutions’ ability to triple
the number of STEM teachers by 2020.”
The 2011-2012 Maryland State Department of Education Teacher Staffing Report
records the usual shortages of qualified high school math and science teachers.
The state’s certification rules, determined by a Board of Professional Teaching Standards
dominated by teachers’ unions and education schools, requires even highly
qualified scientists to have nearly a year of education methods courses in order to
be certified to teach. Alternate certification is available only when sponsored by
union-influenced local school boards.
Only Baltimore City and Prince George’s County boards have been enthusiastic
about sponsoring alternative certification, which provided the state with 273 science
and mathematics teachers in 2011. Absent a more resolute effort to recruit qualified
science teachers, jobs requiring graduates with scientific and technical competence
will be increasingly outsourced to other states and nations. Nor are these deficits
being remedied through increased resort to distance learning, although UMUC
is uniquely equipped to do so. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open
Course Care project, which provides the contents of more than 700 courses online
without charge (http//ocw.mit.edu) widely used by tens of millions of students
throughout the world, is terra incognita in Maryland, thanks to the insularity and
self-protectiveness of Maryland public school administrators and unions.
Boys’ Clubs and Programs for School Dropouts
Nearly a hundred years ago, one of Maryland’s greatest citizens, the pioneer social
worker Mary Ellen Richmond, wrote about the need to occupy youth to prepare
them for the job market, stating there should be “…more adequate provision for the
disorganized period between the time when our boys and girls in large cities leave
school and the time when they settle down in life. This critical period is quite unprovided
for, and in it habits of idleness and irresponsibility are formed.”
like settlement houses, YMCAs, YWCAs, and maternity homes designed to bridge
this gap have fallen into disuse in some places like Baltimore City, and vocational
education has been relegated to scandal-ridden profit-making entities supported by
federal Pell Grants but enjoying little or no local support, regulation, or affiliation.
Promoting Youth Employment in Maryland
Critical Language Instruction
Maryland has made little effort to foster instruction in critical languages in its high
schools, notwithstanding the availability of new federal programs and funding for
this purpose. Several critical languages are on the Maryland State Department of
Education’s list of disciplines with a shortage of high school teachers – shortages
directly due to onerous certification rules, fostered by teacher unions, and by prohibitions
in union contracts of extra pay for scarce disciplines.
A well-conceived Task Force on Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in
Maryland was established in 2009, at the initiative of Senator James Rosapepe,
based on the theory that Maryland should take advantage of the diversity of its population
and the language skills of its new immigrants. It was packed with secondlevel
appointees and the ‘usual suspects’ of the Martin O’Malley administration, and
ventured only timid recommendations, few of which were implemented in high
schools due to lack of follow-through by former Superintendent Nancy Grasmick
and the O’Malley Administration.
The rather timid recommendations were to: establish a website for heritage
language programs designed to maintain proficiency in the native language of students’
families; award high school credit by exam for students who attend nonpublic
heritage language schools; offer additional pre-K through 12 world language
programs plus online and distance delivery systems; continue to expand teacher
certification options for heritage language speakers (The commission noted that
mechanisms for evaluating course credit existed only for Chinese and Italian, not
German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish.); enhance library collections of children’s
literature in heritage languages; provide affordable advanced English classes for
adult heritage language speakers; and others.
No significant effort appears to have been made along these lines, nor have
Maryland school districts actively pursued funding under the new federal programs,
including U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language Assistance Grants and
Department of Defense National Security Education Program grants. DOD grants
support critical language instruction in Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and
various Ohio school districts, but none in Maryland. The Commission noted the
extensive employment opportunities available for persons with critical language
skills in the Washington metropolitan area at the Central Intelligence Agency, National
Security Agency, and National Virtual Translation Center.
The National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland provides
online courses in Arabic and Chinese and sponsored a summer 2011 program to
certify 28 high school Arabic and Chinese teachers at McDaniel College in Westminster.
The University of Maryland’s Confucius Institute sponsors three Chinese
language classrooms: one at a public high school, one at a public elementary school,
and one at a private school. The USDE Foreign Language Assistance Program made
approximately 30 grants totaling about $12 million a year and good for five years
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in 2009 and in 2010. Yet in neither year was any Maryland school district the
recipient of a grant. There does not appear to be any systemic effort by the state
department of education to enlarge such efforts beyond the pilot program level or
to prepare Maryland high school graduates for international business and government
Private and Parochial Schools
Notwithstanding the success of Baltimore’s parochial schools in fostering
and graduating students from underprivileged backgrounds, estimates made
10 years ago that there were 2,000 vacant places in Baltimore City Catholic
schools, and that 44 percent of Baltimore City Public Schools parents applied
for private school vouchers when they were offered, the state administration
has remained passive in the face of the closing of several dozen successful parochial
schools in Baltimore City.
Maryland does not have a strategy for addressing the problem of youth unemployment.
It has a number of pilot programs, and a number of programs that are the tail
of the federal kite. Symbolism is not enough. A state with the highest concentration
of scientific and medical institutions and both domestic and international intelligence
agencies in the country should not be failing to engage qualified teachers
of science and critical languages in its high schools. A state that once pioneered in
the provision of distance learning to Americans abroad should not be neglecting its
possibilities in educating its own citizens. A state that leads the nation in the provision
of extravagant benefits for its public employees should be able, from public
funds, to create or subsidize a non-token number of entry-level jobs and apprenticeships
for its younger citizens. A state with great medical institutions and expertise
in mental health should not continue criminal-justice centered approaches to
drug abuse, which recruits young people into crime, and fails to deter, test, or treat
them to prepare them for employment.
The necessary changes in policy will not earn the favor of teachers’ unions,
which seek to retard the introduction and use of labor-saving technology, and to exclude
liberal arts and science graduates not indoctrinated in education schools from
the teaching force. These changes will not be supported by increasingly influential
unions of prison guards or the law enforcement bureaucrats continuing to fight
the culture wars of the 1960s. They will not earn the favor of the labor unions that
opposed Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps and oppose entry-level wages,
even for neophytes. They will be opposed by ‘civil liberties unions’ determined to
undermine religious organizations by fair means or foul. Nor will they be supported
by anti-tax warriors who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
But the problem is so grave that these vested interests should and can be overcome.
Promoting Youth Employment in Maryland
George W. Liebmann,
principal in the Baltimore law firm of Liebmann and Shively,
P.A. and volunteer Executive Director of the Calvert Institute for Policy Research, Inc, is a
graduate of Dartmouth College (A.B. with high distinction, 1960), and the University of Chicago
Law School (J.D.1963), where he was a managing editor of the law review. He has been
Simon Industrial and Professional Fellow at the University of Manchester and a Visiting Fellow
of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is the author of eight books, including Neighborhood
Futures (Transaction Books, 2004), which discusses building-level governance of schools.
1 See www.ncse.org.
2 See 2012 Maryland State Budget, vol. 1, 704.
3 See Section 8-612, Maryland Labor and Employment article, 2011.
4 Maryland Compendium of Cross-County Indicators, July 2007, Table 16, Center for Substance Abuse, University of Maryland, see
www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/pubs/pubs.asp, p. 5.
5 Veronia School District v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995); Board of Education of Pottawatomie School District v. Earls, 536 U.S.822
6 See, e.g., Odenhein v. Carlstadt School District, 211 N.J. Super 54, 540 A.2nd 709(1986); Anable v. Ford, 653 F. Supp. 22 (D. Ark.
1989) in which fee awards were widely publicized.
7 See “Testing for Drugs in Schools: The Constitutional Issues,” April 1, 1997, The Calvert Institute for Policy Research, at www.
8 See Section 6-107(b)(1) of the State Government article enacted by Chapter 284 of the Acts of 1984.
9 “Resident Teacher Certificate,” Code of Maryland Regulations, 13A.12.01.07.
10 M. Richmond, “Charity and Homemaking,” in M. Richmond,
The Long View: Papers and Addresses
, New York, Russell Sage Foundation,
1930, p. 85.