Montgomery County school officials offer progress report on current, future staffing

More than one month into the school year, Montgomery County, Maryland, public school officials reported that they have managed to fill 99% of their teacher vacancies.

At a meeting before a county council education committee, Janine Bacquie with Montgomery County schools outlined the progress the district is making on the “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” an education reform plan that includes goals for hiring and retaining teachers. Each school district has to submit its plans to achieve the state’s goals by March 2023.

Bacquie told the committee that Montgomery County has among the highest number of teachers statewide who achieved National Board Certification, a rigorous process designed to enhance a teacher’s skills in the classroom.

“We have 621 teachers who hold an active National Board Certification,” and there are another 650 working toward that certification, Bacquie said.

Along with boosting teacher quality, one of the goals of the education reform plan is to have a more diverse teaching staff. Bacquie told members of the committee that MCPS had a diverse teaching applicant pool of 1,390, and hired 442 of those applicants in the 2021-2022 school year. She said the school system’s goal is to increase “diverse hires” by 10% or to 500 teachers in the current 2022-2023 school year.

Montgomery County Council member Nancy Navarro brought up concerns regarding supports for those teacher candidates once they’ve been hired. She said it is “another issue, and there’s been lots and lots of articles written about the rate of how teachers of color leave the profession.”

At one point during Monday’s committee meeting, Arvin Kim, the student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, was asked for his thoughts by Council member Craig Rice.

Referring to the discussion of increasing diversity among the school system’s teaching staff, Kim said, “There really is no way to understate the importance of what we’re talking about today — seeing yourself represented in the classroom.”

Among the other issues brought up during the meeting include finding ways to help immigrant teachers, who may be certified to teach in their home countries, obtain certification in Maryland, and finding pathways to the classroom for veterans who may be considering entering the education field.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future lays out a 10-year $3.8 billion education reform plan.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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