Teacher Certification in Maryland
Maryland’s Protective Tariff Against Teachers
In 2011, Maryland colleges produced 2897 graduates from state-approved teacher education programs, out of 28701 new Maryland college graduates (Maryland Higher Education Report, 2011, p.17). Barely 10% of Maryland’s college graduates are thus eligible for regular certification as teachers in Maryland’s public schools. The regulations governing approved teacher education programs require 27 credit hours of education courses in order to teach at either the elementary or secondary level. (COMAR secs. 13A.12.02.04; 13A.12.02.06) Elementary schoolteachers are required to have twelve semester hours of courses in reading instruction; secondary school teachers six hours. In addition, 100 days of practice teaching spread over two semesters is required in such programs. It follows that about a year and a half of the college experience of teacher education graduates is devoted to methods instruction. Any changes in these requirements require approval by a Teacher Certification Board totally controlled by the teachers’ unions and the education faculties of state colleges, whose determinations can be over-ridden only by a three-fourths vote of the State Board of Education.
This prohibitive barrier fences most intellectually curious liberal arts and science majors from the teaching force. Few want to run such a gauntlet in later life. .Private schools and colleges exact no such requirements of their teachers, few of whom are state-certified, nonetheless students and parents are prepared to pay high tuitions for instruction by their “unqualified” teachers.
Maryland, to be sure, possesses a narrow gateway, the Resident Teacher Program, through which a small number of liberal arts and science majors may enter the teaching force. In order to ensure that few know of the program and that few can count on its availability, the program is restricted to teachers in disciplines (usually sciences) in which shortages exist, and each such program must be authorized by union-influenced local school boards. Only five of Maryland’s subdivisions have authorized Resident Teachers Programs and they are important only in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, whose teacher recruiting problems have reached crisis stage. Only in such circumstances will the unions and their bureaucratic allies condescend to look for recruits from outside the charmed circle of education program graduates.
In 2011, according to the Maryland State Department of Education’s Biennial Teacher Staffing Report, Maryland recruited 398 new teachers through theResident Teachers Program, of a statewide total of 3695 new hires, 2342 of whom were new to teaching. The recruitment of 15% of new teachers through this alternative device is superficially impressive, until one looks at the geographic breakdown. 295 of the Resident Teachers were hired in Baltimore City and 80 in Prince George’s County. The other 22 subdivisions hired only 23 Resident Teachers—11 in Anne Arundel County, 8 in Baltimore County and 5 in Montgomery County. These 22 subdivisions hired 2703 teachers in 2011, of whom1735 were new to teaching. Thus alternative certification accounts for barely 1% of new teachers in most Maryland jurisdictions, who prefer to rely on the traditional union-approved applicant pool of the weakest graduates of the weakest colleges.
Nor is the program being allowed to grow. The 398 Resident Teachers in 2011 were down from 504 in the previous year (see Maryland Teacher Staffing Report,2012-14, page 44, Table 8A). Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County no longer have programs at the College of Notre Dame; Baltimore County no longe rhas one at Towson University, and a New Teacher Project in Prince George’s County appears to have been abandoned, producing drops from the previous year of 93 in Prince George’s County, 12 in Baltimore County and 2 in Anne Arundel County.
A special program at the state level to alternatively certify 100 new science teachers a year appears to have been abandoned. It was implemented by Superintendent Grasmick during the Ehrlich Administration to stave off demands for more comprehensive reform, and has now served its purpose.
Maryland legislators and taxpayers must ask themselves why they continue to pour billions of dollars each year into systems which automatically reject 90% of the potentially available talent.