Breaking Down the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future
This is part of a series of articles explaining what’s in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (HB 1300/SB 1000) as introduced. Look for other articles on career and technical education, pre-k, community schools, and more.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will deliver much-needed raises for educators across the state to recognize their professionalism and importance, and increase staffing to address the time and workload concerns of educators.
Change is overdue. Currently, half of Maryland educators work a second job to make ends meet, and teachers make 85 cents on the dollar compared to professions requiring similar levels of education.
“The [Kirwan] Commission learned that in essentially every high-performing school system in the world, teaching is regarded as a high-status profession … [with] compensation … comparable to that of other occupations requiring the same amount of university education.”— Kirwan Commission Interim Report, January 2019
The Blueprint recognizes that Maryland needs to do a better job of recruiting and retaining teachers. In its latest report on teacher staffing, the Maryland State Board of Education declared that all 24 school systems had a projected shortage of certified teachers. Enrollment in higher education teaching programs is plummeting, drying up the pipeline of new teachers and contributing to an annual teacher shortage. And teachers who do enter the profession are hard-pressed to make it a career, with 47% of teachers leaving the profession by their third year.
This statewide crisis has a direct impact on students when it translates to course selections being cut, class sizes increasing, and favorite educators leaving — or never joining the profession in the first place.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future recognizes that changes are urgently needed. The Blueprint recommends several immediate and long-term measures to attract and retain educators, including:
The Blueprint seeks to make teaching in Maryland competitive not just with teaching in others states that currently offer higher salaries, but with traditionally high status professions requiring similar levels of education, like accounting and architecture.
The Blueprint recognizes that salaries aren’t the only driver in unsustainable recruitment and retention rates — working conditions and workloads are too. That’s why the Blueprint projects the hiring of 15,000 new educators (including ESP positions such as paraeducators) and a reduction in classroom teaching time to allow for collaborative departmental or grade-level work, professional development, individual support to struggling students, working with parents, meeting with mentors/mentees, and more. Support for behavioral health treatment will also increase, thanks to funding for every school system to have a behavioral health services coordinator to oversee behavioral health services and referral procedures.
While much of the rhetorical focus in the Blueprint is on teachers, all educators would benefit from the Blueprint’s pay and staffing increases. The Blueprint will send additional funding to school systems and bargaining tables that can translate into much-needed raises for support professionals (including through “me too” bargaining language in local contracts), and also dedicates funding to hiring thousands of new educators — including ESPs — to better support students and reduce caseloads.
The Blueprint also proposes a career ladder that includes national board certification and taking on additional leadership roles, like instructional coaches, department chairs, and master teachers. The idea is to give teachers opportunities to raise their salaries without going into administration — a tough decision that faces many teachers who want to stay in the profession long-term. As a teacher moves up the career ladder and receives positive evaluations, the teacher will be given increased authority, responsibility and autonomy for making school-level decisions. The bill proposes two tracks: a Teacher Leadership Track and an Administrative Track. Expect debate over the next several weeks to find a balance in local autonomy and collective bargaining with the state goals and parameters for this program.
Click here to email your legislators and urge them to pass the Blueprint and a new funding formula that will be a game-changer for our students and schools.
For further information on salaries and staffing in the Blueprint, see pp. 96–105, 140–142, and 157 of the bill at this link.