TELL Maryland Press Conference
March 4, 2010
Thank you all very much. I especially want to thank the principals and educators who are with us.
Our mission statement in your state government is to strengthen and grow the ranks of an increasingly diverse, upwardly mobile middle class. To improve public safety and public education in every part of our State. And to expand opportunity to more people rather than fewer.
Each of these priorities we share depend on public education. It’s how you have a strong, growing, diverse, and upwardly mobile middle class. It’s how you create, save, and protect jobs. It’s how you climb out of this recession and how you turn the corner to a new prosperity.
In our elementary schools, our teachers teach the three “R’s”: reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. The formula for competing and winning in the 21st century global economy comes down to three S’s: security, science, and skills: the talents, creativity, ingenuity and education of our greatest asset, our people.
Because of the hard work of teachers, principals, and students throughout our State – and because we’ve chosen together as One Maryland – even in difficult times – to make record investments in our public schools, Education Week magazine has affirmed for two years in a row that we in Maryland have the #1 best public school system in the United States of America.
But we aren’t content just running in place. Our focus isn’t just on retaining our #1 status in America. We want to be #1 in the world. Our children will increasingly be competing for jobs and opportunity with global competitors in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. It’s the responsibility of our generation to give them the tools to compete and win.
We’ve set the big goal of increasing student achievement 25% by 2015. And earlier this week we launched what we call Skills2Compete, with the vision of giving every Marylander access to some sort of education or training post-high school.
How can we go from best in America to best in the world? Here are four simple things we want to do together with our teachers, principals, parents, and students:
We’re proposing to make record investments in K-12 education this session, and to enact education reforms that will position our school systems to win more federal funding.
We have put a statewide priority on reinvigorating so-called CTE, or Career and Technology Education, and STEM, science, technology, engineering and math,…these disciplines our students will need to compete and win in the global economy.
We are bringing together stakeholders from inside and outside of government in common cause of aligning our efforts to prepare our K-12 students to succeed in college and the workforce.
Fourth, is the topic we’re here to discuss, and that’s teachers and principles: recruiting, retaining, and supporting the very best educators and administrators.
To our principals and teachers our message is simple: you spoke, we listened. Over the past several months, schools throughout our One Maryland have been using findings from our State’s first ever survey of teaching conditions– the TELL Maryland survey -- as part of their school improvement planning processes.
Today, we’re releasing the school specific data to the public.
The findings confirm something we long suspected: there is a direct connection between the quality of conditions in a school and both the success of the students, and the retention of quality teachers and principals.
They echo the findings of a recent nationwide survey by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation which reported that 68% of teachers believe that supportive leadership is “absolutely essential” to retaining quality teachers.
Because teaching conditions matter, we’ve chosen together as One Maryland to invest more than $1.2 billion in school construction, which is allowing us to replace temporary learning shacks with modern classrooms.
And because teaching conditions matter, we would all agree that it is essential we continue to listen to what teachers and principals have to say. This first ever TELL Maryland survey will not be our last.
The statewide data we released in May told us that respondents were generally happy with the leadership in their schools, the resources provided them, parents’ engagement, and the safety of their schools. But teachers felt their schools could do better in giving them more time to plan and collaborate with their colleagues and more of a voice in decision making.
The findings we’re releasing today show a connection between student performance and the inclusion of teachers in decision-making.
They also show a connection between teachers’ perception of the leadership of their school and their desire to remain in the classroom – confirming that good principals are “teacher magnets” if you will. Community engagement is another critical factor.
In addition, the findings show that new teachers who receive mentorship are nearly four times more likely to want to remain with their school than those who do not. Mentorship matters and teachers tell us that we can do a little better. We’re listening, and it’s an area we address in our Race to the Top legislation.
Let me close by saying that here in Maryland, we rank #1 in America, according to the Milken Institute, in the investments we make in what they call our “human capital” – in other words, the talents, skills, creativity and ingenuity of our people.
That’s why we’re better positioned that other States to beat this recession and start booming again – and to compete and win in the global economy. We can only accomplish this because of our hardworking teachers and principals, our committed parents, and above all our students. Thank you all for joining us.