Securing Budget Allocations and Ensuring Balanced Organ Donor Education in Maryland (Audio)
By Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Director, Mid-Atlantic Region, Agudath Israel of America
Baltimore, MD - Mar. 8 - On Thursday, the Senate Budget and Tax Committee heard testimony on the many education related items in the Governor's budget, including the Maryland Nonpublic Textbook Program. With a 25% increase to the standard $4.4 million allocation, the textbook program stands to be even more beneficial to Maryland nonpublic schools.
Representing Maryland's 110,000 nonpublic school students was Chani Sadwin, a 7th grade student at Bais Yaakov's Rabbi Benjamin Steinberg Middle School. After last year's well received testimony to the House Appropriations Committee, Miss Sadwin was the nonpublic school coalition's choice witness to testify to the Senate committee in support of the program and its increased allocation (and her father testified as well).
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The increase faces an uphill battle, as the State's Department of Legislative Services delivered a recommendation to remove the increase and the House committee seems to be leaning towards adopting the removal. We hope today's Senate hearing will yield better results for the much needed increase.
As reported several weeks ago, the organ donor "presumed consent" bill was withdrawn due to strong opposition, and an alternative bill that requires organ donation education to be instituted as part of driver's education was introduced. Hearings in both the House and Senate have taken place in the last week to discuss this new bill. From the outset I have been in touch with the bill sponsors to ensure that a well-rounded education on the topic be crafted and not merely a one-sided presentation.
At the two hearings, I provided testimony including amendments to the bill that will reflect the need to allow faith-based perspectives to be included into the new curriculum. As organ donation is not usually a household topic, many teenagers attending driver's education classes are quite unfamiliar with the conversation. The inclusion of the additional perspectives on the topic will allow for the correct decision to be made. Our recommendations have been well received by both the bill sponsors and organ donation groups in Maryland.