Kirwan Commission Considers Major Pay Increase for Teachers

Eliminating the gap in compensation between teachers and high-status professions that require comparable levels of education is a major piece of the [Kirwan] Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education’s preliminary report. The High-Quality Teachers and Leaders workgroup, one of four workgroups tasked with costing out the Commission’s preliminary recommendations, today discussed a potential model for increasing teacher pay commensurate with advancement on the career ladder.

Maryland Occupations/Salaries: Comparable Occupations List

According to the chart below, teachers in Maryland earn approximately 20% less than professionals working in comparable fields. The workgroup debated adjusting the “comparable profession” salaries to reflect a 10-month work year, which is typical for teachers. While the workgroup ultimately decided against adjusting the numbers, they did remove “Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers” from the list (the lowest paying comparable occupation), rejecting it as a similar profession.

Framework for Phase-in of Teacher Salary Increases

According to the Commission’s preliminary report, advancement up the ladder should be based on the acquisition of specified knowledge and skills, rigorous evidence of success as a classroom teacher, and/or additional responsibilities commensurate with the additional compensation. The chart below depicts a significant pay increase for teachers who obtain National Board Certification.

Notably, after determining the draft plan would fail to close the compensation gap between teachers and comparable professions, the workgroup asked staff to make a number of changes, including replacing the 10% pay increase in year four with a 40% or 50% pay increase in year four. Commission staff will present cost estimates for the proposed changes at the next meeting.

According to the workgroup, a systematic phase-in of salary increases for teachers (above and beyond cost-of-living adjustments) is necessary in order to stem the decline in teacher recruitment and retention and to begin reducing the gap between compensation levels for teachers and other professions requiring comparable levels of education.

Teacher and staff salaries drive education costs, often making up for more than half of school system budgets. The workgroup acknowledged that raising teacher pay will also result in higher teacher retirement costs and other post-employment benefits. Commission staff will present those fiscal estimates at the next meeting.

The Commission’s four working groups will continue working to develop a consensus on the design, implementation plan, and cost for each of the preliminary recommendations. Once the working groups have completed their work, they will present their recommendations and cost estimates to the full Commission. The chair will work with staff and consultants to develop a draft cost estimate based on the recommendations of the working groups (as considered by the full Commission) for the full Commission’s consideration.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission.

The Commission was originally set to complete its work in time for the 2018 session of the General Assembly, but last October asked for an extension when it became clear the deadline was not realistic. Prior to breaking for the 2018 legislative session, the Commission released a preliminary report detailing its preliminary recommendations.

MACo is entitled to two representatives on the Commission, under the legislation. Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair, and Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Vice Chair, represent MACo on the Commission.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

2017 Preliminary Report

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

MACo’s Summer Conference will include a session on education funding and accountability, and how to best ensure that Maryland students receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education. The session, “Angling for Educational Excellence: Kirwan 2.0,” is scheduled for 10:15 am – 11:15 am on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

The 2018 MACo Summer Conference will be held August 15-18 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s theme is “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: