Sauerbrey lists higher goals for state's teachers She wants educators to have degrees from accredited programs

Talks of 'crisis' in schools

September 23, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Mike Bowler and Mary Maushard contributed to this article.

Calling for "systemic reforms" in education, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey unveiled a plan yesterday to raise standards for state teachers and took a swipe at Gov. Parris N. Glendening for siding with teacher groups opposed to some of the reforms.

In announcing the plan, Sauerbrey publicly backed some reforms that have been pushed by state School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. The governor, for his part, has put millions of dollars into new school construction, local school system operating budgets and a new scholarship program.

Sauerbrey, who said the state has a "crisis" in education, proposed requiring teachers to graduate from nationally accredited teacher education programs and requiring secondary-school teachers to have degrees and demonstrated competency in the subjects they teach.

"Parris Glendening is not going to do it, because he's afraid of the teacher union PACs," Sauerbrey said, referring to the Maryland State Teachers Association's political action committee.

Some of the reforms Sauerbrey proposed yesterday have been undertaken by the state school board and legislature, at the urging of Grasmick, who Sauerbrey mentioned several times in her remarks.

"Overall, I think Sauerbrey's plan mirrors what the state board has been undertaking over the last several years," said Lawrence E. Leak, assistant superintendent for certification and accreditation.

At Sauerbrey's side at a press conference outside Oakland Mills High School in Columbia was Christopher T. Cross, former president of the State Board of Education and a nationally recognized proponent of school reforms.

Cross, president of the Washington-based Council for Basic Education, said he was endorsing Sauerbrey -- and her reform effort. "These are very good proposals, very reasonable and very common sense," said Cross, whom Glendening did not reappoint to the state board last year.

Glendening has not been particularly vocal on some of Grasmick's reforms -- in large part because of the support he enjoys from the MSTA, which represents 48,000 teachers and school employees across the state. But MSTA president Karl K. Pence defended the alliance between the governor and his association, which has endorsed Glendening.

'She's attacking us'

"The reform movements under this governor are better because the teachers and the association are involved in them," Pence said. "She's attacking us for things we're already doing. This is another statement that clearly shows she doesn't know what's going on."

The suggestion that the state has done nothing "falls in the misleading and disingenuous category," he said.

Peter S. Hamm, Glendening campaign spokesman, would not respond to questions about the Sauerbrey proposal. "The specifics of this are irrelevant to the fact that this candidate is reinventing herself," he said.

"It's clear why Ellen Sauerbrey is afraid to debate us," he said. "She doesn't even know what her record on education is."

"Ellen Sauerbrey voted three times against legislation that would strengthen teacher standards -- in 1988, 1990 and 1991," he said. That legislation, favored by the MSTA, initially established the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board and later redefined its role.

Voters' concerns

Education has become a hot-button issue in the campaign for governor, as polls repeatedly have shown that voters identify schools as their top concern.

Sauerbrey has proposed putting an additional 1,001 teachers in Maryland classrooms by 2002 -- at a cost of about $40 million a year -- and promoting phonics-based reading instruction.

Similarly, Glendening has proposed hiring more than 1,100 reading and math teachers and adding or renovating thousands of classrooms in the next four years.

The proposals

Under her proposal, Sauerbrey would:

* Prevent unlimited renewal of provisional teaching certificates. She mentioned Prince George's County, where 900 teachers -- 1 in 8 -- are not certified and continue to teach by renewing their provisional certificates.

That will be severely curtailed, however, under a plan adopted by the state board in June, Leak said.

* Require that teachers graduate from teachers colleges accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The state board of education has been working with NCATE since 1995, and the legislature approved a bill this year requiring all the schools to be accredited by the group by 2004, Leak said.

* Require that secondary school teachers have an academic major and demonstrated competence in the subjects they teach.

The state board has expressed concern about teachers teaching "out of field," and so far has adopted certification tests that become effective July 1 to assess basic knowledge and skills in subject areas.

* Hold teacher education programs accountable by releasing national teacher testing scores for the state's teacher education programs.

* Appoint and reappointing "reform-minded" members to the state board of education.

* Veto legislation that would weaken the role of the state board of education by giving more power to the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board.

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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