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


Promoting Youth


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


affected employees.




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.




Distance Learning


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.”


Drug Testing


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


proximity thereto.





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


the coordinator.







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


unless renewed.




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




The Maryland Journal


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// 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




The Maryland Journal


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


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, 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.



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