ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Senate unanimously approved a bill Friday to provide state grants for people returning to college for teacher certification, one of a series of proposals this session to help alleviate the teacher shortage.
If passed by the House of Delegates and Gov. Parris N. Glendening, it would supply $10,000 each to people who change careers to education and enroll full time in college.
The aim of the proposal is to help teachers-to-be cover living expenses while they gain certification and to get them into the classroom as soon as possible.
The proposal would run for three years, starting Oct. 1, and would cost $1 million in 2002, $2 million in 2003, and $3 million in 2004.
The Maryland Higher Education Commission also would have to hire another staff member to oversee the new program, at a cost of about $57,000 in fiscal 2001.
“You give it a shot and see how well it works. It’s not a big-ticket item, compared to other measures,” said Secretary of Higher Education Patricia Florestano.
The proposal is one part of the state’s broad effort to solve the teacher shortage. Maryland schools will need another 11,000 teachers by 2001, but state colleges graduate only about 2,500 education majors a year — and about half of those leave the state.
Grant candidates would have to have a bachelor’s degree and would have to complete certification in one year. Then they would be required to teach for three years at a public school in an underserved area or an underserved specialty. “It’s a step forward. I wish we had more money to spend on this,” said sponsor Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s. “We have to do something about it because our children will suffer if we don’t have qualified people in front of the classroom.”
The teacher shortage became critical because instructors hired in the 1960s are retiring now and fewer people are entering the profession, daunted by relatively low salaries and school violence, Florestano said.
“We’re trying to use a whole arsenal of weapons to get at the teacher shortage,” she said Friday.
This program would work faster than other proposed remedies for the teacher shortage, Pinsky said. Other plans from Glendening and state lawmakers to attract more teachers include higher salaries, better signing bonuses, scholarships for undergraduate education majors, teacher mentoring, and home interest loans at favorable rates for those who teach at a public school for a designated time period. -30- CNS-3-16-00