Noncertified teachers are the focus of panel studying state education aid Prince George's County schools head defends provisional instructors

October 15, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

A task force studying state education aid began examining the Prince George's County school system yesterday, focusing in particular on the number of its noncertified teachers.

More than 12 percent of the county's 8,700 teachers hold provisional teaching licenses -- meaning they have not met the state's formal requirements. That is, by far, the highest proportion of any school system in the state.

The issue is under review by the General Assembly because of efforts by Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Prince George's legislators to secure more funding for that county's schools.

Key legislators have said that a major increase in state funding for the county's schools is possible only if new accountability standards and management plans are put in place to improve the system.

That includes, for example, an effort to reduce the number of noncertified teachers, said one key legislator.

"If we are concerned about providing the best quality education of Prince George's students, that is one issue that has to be addressed," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a member of the task force and head of the House Appropriations Committee.

Prince George's County school Superintendent Jerome Clark told the task force that the large number of provisionally licensed teachers is due in part to his determination to hire larger numbers of minority teachers for a system that is three-quarters black.

"I can certainly put a certificated teacher in every classroom, but I'm committed to diversity," Clark said. "We make no apologies for bringing people into our system who might not be fully certificated."

While last night's hearing focused on the condition of the Prince George's school system, the task force did not discuss possible improvements or increases in state aid.

State school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick is scheduled next week to propose a statewide spending formula to help school systems with large numbers of students in poverty. The proposal would direct more state aid to Prince George's.

Glendening had contemplated a major aid package totaling as much as $250 million for the Prince George's system over five years.

But faced with criticism from legislators, the governor has scaled back his plans in recent weeks and now says that any new aid for his home county must be included in a statewide funding package.

Pub Date: 10/15/97

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