Major changes proposed for Md. teachers

The Maryland State House sign is seen in this WTOP file photo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — The teaching profession in Maryland public schools should undergo “major changes,” according to recommendations from a commission that is examining ways to strengthen the state’s education system.

“We are radically increasing the standards to enter the profession or to stay in the profession,” said State Sen. Paul Pinsky, a member of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education.

The statewide panel, often referred to as the “Kirwan Commission,” has been working on recommendations for two years and is now finalizing its report for the General Assembly and Governor Larry Hogan.

Commission members have focused on early childhood education, higher quality teachers, college and career readiness and getting more resources to at-risk children.

“We are treading in very difficult and challenging areas,” Pinsky said at a commission meeting Thursday.

Under recommendations outlined by Pinsky, prospective teachers would be put through a host of new tests and training exercises “comparable to countries with the top student performance.”

They would need to complete a “full school year of practical experience” before graduating from their teacher education program.

“We are linking raising the quality of people who enter the profession and remain in the profession with improving the profession, including salaries and working conditions,” Pinsky said.

Pinsky called for a rise in teacher pay so their paychecks are more in line with trained professionals with the same amount of education, such as accountants and registered nurses.

Teacher salaries would be increased by 10 percent over the course of three years “to reach the average salary of teachers in Massachusetts and New Jersey.”

Educators would be given more time to team up with colleagues to improve instruction and work with students who are falling behind.

There would also be new “career ladders” implemented in schools for teachers and administrative leaders, giving them more money and more responsibilities as they become more successful and climb higher.

“In general, the highest levels of the ladder should be reserved for exceptional teachers and leaders, with no more than 1 percent attaining the highest levels,” according to the recommendations.

Another hot-button topic covered by the commission was pre-K education.

Recommendations call for the expansion of publicly financed pre-K education for 3 and 4-year-old children from low-income families.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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