Maryland's Taoiseach Proposes Reform

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and state school Superintendent Nancy Grasmick can finally agree on one thing: O'Malley's proposal to make the state competitive for Race to the Top round two.

Score one for Grasmick? Before Maryland decided not to apply in the first round of the Race to the Top competition -- making it one of only 10 states not to -- O'Malley said that no legislative changes were needed, while Grasmick insisted that they were if Maryland was to submit an application that had a snowball's chance in hell of being successful.

It looks like the Governor has come around. The Baltimore Sun reports that the Governor "wants to add a year to the time it takes public school teachers to achieve tenure and to tie their performance evaluations to data on how well their students are doing" and that Grasmick is "very happy."

A draft of the governor's Education Reform Act of 2010 shows that it includes:
•Lengthening the teacher tenure track from two to three years.

•Requiring that schools provide mentors to new teachers who are in danger of not achieving tenure.

•Making data on student growth a "significant component" of teacher evaluations, one of "multiple measures."

•Providing incentive pay (contingent upon Race to the Top funding) for "highly effective" teachers and principals who serve the bottom 5% of lowest-achieving public schools.
But will the Legislature agree? That remains to be seen, but the fact that the Governor and the state Superintendent could agree -- and that the proposal is supported by the state teachers' unions -- bodes well.