Inside MSEA: $60,000 Starting Salary for Teachers

Reversing the trend on the teacher-supply pipeline

MSEA Executive Director David Helfman

The Kirwan Commission’s January report recommends significant policies to better support our public schools and school children. From expanded access to pre-K to enhanced career technical education programs, from greater supports for schools in concentrated poverty, to greater resources for special education, the policy recommendations are critical for our success.

One of the most important? A $60,000 teacher salary guarantee in every school system by 2024–25.

Commissioners understood that a salary competitive with other professions would entice bright high school students to consider education careers. They knew that more stringent entry standards into teaching prep programs — along with performance-based assessments for teacher certification — and the need to significantly increase staffing in our schools justify the higher entry salaries.

Those reasons resonated with me, but I was driven to propose the $60,000 standard because of teacher supply pipeline trends.

According to the Department of Education, there were 10,353 students enrolled in Maryland’s teacher prep programs in 2009–10. After adjusting for those who abandon the pursuit of teaching (before or after graduating), those who obtain jobs in private or parochial schools, or those who leave our state after graduating, about 1,600 landed jobs in Maryland public schools. By 2015–16 the total number of students in Maryland preparing for a teaching career dropped by 50% to 5,184. Thus, we should expect only about 800 new public school teachers per year.

Fortunately, we’ve always had a direct pipeline from Pennsylvania. But the picture is even bleaker there. They’ve experienced a 65% drop in their pipeline, from 40,739 students in 2009–10 to 14,387 by 2015–16. Simply put, while our reliance on importing teachers has increased, our major supplier no longer has enough in its pipeline to satisfy even its own teacher staffing needs.

With a $60,000 guarantee, Maryland can more effectively market education degrees to high school students. And we’ll find graduates from neighboring states clamoring to land jobs in Maryland. Simply put, it’s the most important and efficient way to ensure our schools are well staffed with teachers for the next generation.