Union Contracts Ask Little of Maryland Teachers

Published February 1, 1999

A new study of the 24 teacher union contracts currently in effect in Maryland reveals that county school boards are extraordinarily lenient with the unions and actually demand very little of public school teachers. Ten counties, for example, have no requirement at all for teachers to meet with parents; most others generally require no more than a total of two hours per year; and only two require teachers to commit to parent meetings for 10 hours annually. That is the most any district demands, according to Baltimore City lawyer George W. Liebmann in the Calvert Institute Issue Brief, “The Agreement: How Federal, State and Union Regulations Are Destroying Public Education in Maryland.”

Although resourceful and diligent teachers take their responsibilities seriously, they reap the same reward as less committed or even slothful teachers, because the unions vigorously oppose merit pay. Instead, unions insist on longevity pay, with automatic raises based solely on length of service–until the 35th year of service, in one county. Thus, a single salary scale applies equally to plentiful second-grade reading teachers and scarce twelfth-grade physics teachers.

“The salary structure applicable to our children’s teachers is one more appropriate to an organization of sweepers in a meat-packing plant,” observes Liebmann, noting that the Maryland school code mandates similar identical rewards, regardless of merit, to students as well as teachers. All high school graduates must receive the same type of diploma.

Liebmann’s recommendations for improvement include legislation to separate elementary and high schools as bargaining units, restoration of school board authority to discipline and dismiss teachers, a governing board for each school, merit pay and added pay for special disciplines, and more school choice, particularly for low-income children in the last two years of high school.

For more information …

George W. Liebmann’s July 1998 report, The Agreement: How Federal, State and Union Regulations Are Destroying Public Education in Maryland, is available from the Calvert Institute for Policy Research, 2604 Sisson Street, 3rd Floor, Baltimore, MD 21211, 410/662-7252. The report also is available at www.calvertinstitute.org for Internet users or through PolicyBot. Point your Web browser to http://www.heartland.org, click on the PolicyBot icon, and search for old documents #2180435 (18 pp.) and #2180436 (18 pp.).