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Posted at 6:47 AM ET, 04/11/2010

Experience that counts in the Maryland Senate

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Paul G. Pinsky
University Park

The April 6 editorial “Time for an intervention,” opposing the education reform bill I led through the Maryland Senate, turned reality upside down. Of the two reform bills headed to conference committee, the Senate’s is the more thorough.

Our Senate action applies statewide the reform lessons educators have learned in local school districts — lessons I know firsthand as someone who helped create Montgomery County’s Peer Assistance and Review program, a joint union-management initiative that has removed far more failing teachers than other Maryland school systems have. The Senate bill also extends another aspect of this program — serious mentoring for new teachers — throughout the state, while the House version ensures no such effort. Finally, the “watered-down” Senate bill calls for serious efforts to help failing schools by replacing ineffective school leadership and bringing in groups of high-quality teachers to change a school’s culture.

The House measure, said the editorial, requires student growth to “account for 50 percent” of teacher evaluations, “while the Senate bill is silent on specifics.” Silent? The Senate bill says that student growth must be a “substantial” evaluation yardstick, the same standard the governor originally proposed. To suggest that this difference proves bad faith by the Senate suggests bad faith instead by The Post’s editorialists.

That same bad faith may explain the editorial’s conflict-of-interest charge against me. I first won legislative office in 1986 on a platform that pledged to put my experience as a Prince George’s teacher to work for students. For six Annapolis terms, I’ve done just that — with no “conflict” charge by the Post. Why now?

My Annapolis record includes the legislation that brought the National Board Certification process to our state. Close to 1,700 Maryland teachers have completed the intense professional development that certification requires. Count these teachers as an important part of the reason why Maryland’s public schools rank first in the nation.

Count our Senate efforts to set stronger education standards as a step designed to keep us there.

The writer, a Democrat, represents the 22nd District in the Maryland Senate, where he is chairman of the education subcommittee.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | April 11, 2010; 6:47 AM ET
Categories:  Maryland, schools  | Tags:  Maryland senate, Montgomery teachers post, Paul G. Pinsky, education reform maryland  
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