State looks at ways to train, retain more teachers

October 03, 2008|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,liz.bowie@baltsun.com

Each year, more Maryland teachers retire or leave the classroom than emerge from the state's schools of education.

That needs to change, a Maryland task force said in a new report outlining 26 actions that should be taken in the next several years to produce more teachers from state colleges and to provide incentives for teachers to stay in classrooms.

Yesterday, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents education committee recommended that the board begin taking action to get more qualified teachers into classrooms.

Some recommendations are likely to need substantial state funding or a shift in the policies of the Maryland State Department of Education, but most of the state's education leaders have endorsed them, said Patricia Florestano, a member of the regents and co-chairman of the task force.

"Not all of it is going to be easy," she said, but many of the players, including MSDE officials, "really came around."

Some of the recommendations included technical changes in certification standards. Others broadly suggested that teachers in the state need to be paid more or that the state should resume tuition reimbursement for college students studying to be teachers who agree to work in the public schools.

The university system could also ease the shortage by helping to fund a program that requires college students to spend at least a semester in the classroom and with a mentor teacher. The $2 million cost of the program has been funded largely out of federal grants that are being cut.

The report also points out that some career changers who have decades of valuable expertise are blocked from becoming teachers because of the years of expensive schooling they would need to become certified.

Colleges and universities should work with state education officials to craft alternative ways for people with other experience to become teachers, the report says.

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