Posted 09 November 2017
As the Kirwan Commissions is closing in on its report to the General Assembly, the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) has some recommendation for consideration. While MSEA is pleased with some of the priority areas currently being discussed by the commission, such as universal pre-k for four-year-olds and an expansion in career technology education, the organization has highlighted nine other priority areas which would contribute to Maryland educational success:
1. Raise salaries for certified professionals in every district and on every step level of the pay scale to close the gap between Maryland's average teacher salary and Massachusetts's average teacher salary by the end of the Kirwan phase-in.
2. Enact a regionally-indexed living wage law for school employees that sets a family-supporting minimum salary.
3. Reduce the statewide students-to-teacher ratio from 14.6 to 12.5 )average of three comparable states) by the end of the Kirwan phase-in by increasing instructional staff to give teachers more planning, training, and collaboration time; ensure students have access to quality non-core subject instruction; and implement locally-developed career lattices that allow teachers to move up in the profession without moving out of the classroom.
4. Increase para-educators, especially to lessen the burden on special educators and elementary teachers.
6. All funding for staffing increases should be made available to schools in order of poverty concentration, with the highest-poverty schools receiving funding for additional staff first.
7. Build community schools into the new funding formula in a way that significantly increases the number of high-poverty schools utilizing the model. The formula should feature a sliding scale of aid based on the number of schools with high percentages of low-income students.
8. Expand the use of prevention and intervention supports, such as restorative practices, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and trauma-informed instruction through increased staff and ongoing job-embedded professional development for all educators that is linked to new local discipline policies.
9. Adopt statewide social and emotional learning standards for all students, with a gradual phase-in of necessary professional development. changes to educator preparation programs, curriculum and learning materials, and teacher-developed assessment tools.
It is the position of the Maryland State Education Association that if the Kirwan commission makes these policy considerations priorities in their report, Maryland would see dramatic improvements in the education of our next generation.