Head of teachers union to resign to implement job evaluation policy Accountability program held key to school reform

January 21, 1998|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Marcia Brown, who took over as head of the 7,000-member Baltimore Teachers Union in a contentious election nearly two years ago, will resign her job Monday to implement a teacher job evaluation policy she helped design.

The union president is one of four staff members to be chosen by interim schools chief Robert Schiller to help put in place the evaluation policy, considered a key component in reforming the city school system. The policy requires teachers to be held accountable for what their students do and don't learn -- an approach used by only a handful of school systems across the nation.

Brown took over the city's largest municipal union after ousting longtime President Irene B. Dandridge in May 1996. Dandridge lost after The Sun reported that union officials were paid far more than average union members, received large interest-free advances from the union's treasury and hired relatives.

Brown earned $68,000 a year as head of the union, far less than Dandridge's $99,000. In her new job, she will earn a teacher's salary. The job will last a year and a half.

Brown faced the challenge of trying to keep together a sometimes fractious union while negotiating a contract with the newly appointed school board. The negotiations are not completed, although the two sides are reportedly moving closer to an agreement.

"We are hopeful we can bring this to some kind of conclusion. The teachers have been without a contract since I have been in office," she said yesterday. "I guess we are closer than we were four months ago, but I don't think we will reach one tonight."

Brown will be replaced by Vice President Marietta English, a consulting teacher at Cross Country Elementary School, who will take over Monday and head the union until Brown's term expires in May.

The 54-year-old union president said the focus of the union has changed in the past two years, locally and nationally. Teachers have begun concentrating on lobbying for changes in the system to improve poor schools and teacher effectiveness, she said, rather than working conditions.

Brown had decided not to pursue another term as union president in May. She would not say why.

Schiller said he is in the process of appointing a team of four people to implement the teacher job performance policy. It will include two teachers in the system, Brown and Brenda Conley, an assistant superintendent for professional development. Conley, on leave to finish her doctorate, will head the team.

Part of the negotiations on the new contract included an agreement on a teacher evaluation policy that would relate teacher performance to student performance.

The Maryland General Assembly had agreed to allocate funds for teacher pay raises to begin bringing their salaries in line with their counterparts in Baltimore County, but that money was contingent on a new evaluation policy.

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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