Glendening's education waffle Contradicting his own words: State board needs a say in teacher training, certification.

March 09, 1996

JUST WHEN Maryland had apparently made the considerable feat of transitioning from one governor to another with an ambitious school reform effort still on track, along comes something to contradict the firm words of support Gov. Parris N. Glendening utters in public.

Last year, we could forgive a new administration, eager to reward allies after a close election, for its missteps. But when the governor later professed to understand the delicacy of a comprehensive school-reform process and enthusiastically embraced that effort, we expected him to stand behind his word. Instead, his administration told teacher unions to come up with a "compromise" on control of teacher training and certification. And guess what? The "compromise" effectively cuts the state board out of the process.

Now legislators are facing a rehash of last year's fight over the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board, which was originally created to give teachers and their professional organizations more say in matters related to regulations governing their profession. The standards board now can initiate proposals and must, along with the state board, approve a plan before it can take effect.

When the two boards disagree, the state board can override the standards panel with a three-quarters majority vote. That's a very tough threshold, but even that doesn't satisfy the teacher unions.

This year's bill would replace the existing line of accountability with vague language about the standard board's duty to make decisions consistent with state policies. Two members of the state board would sit on the standards panel. But they would be only two of 25 members -- with teacher unions and professional organizations in firm control.

Worse, the new standards panel would exclude representatives of independent schools -- a move that slights an important part of Maryland's school community. Another question arises as to whether the state board members would be expected to represent their personal views or those of the entire board, a function individual members are not authorized to fill.

If Mr. Glendening thinks the state can reform students and schools, while allowing teachers to operate outside the current system of accountability, he's wrong. If this bill passes Maryland will see a significant crack in the school reform effort, after coming all this way.

Pub Date: 3/09/96

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