Smelser Bill Would Set State-Wide Pay Scales For Teachers

March 7, 1968

By Sen. Charles Smelser Carroll-Frederick Dist. 2

I have introduced in the General Assembly a bill (Senate Bill 578) which is designed to bring about a greater measure of equality in the compensation of Maryland public school teachers, principals and administrative officials.

The bill provides that Baltimore City and the counties shall pay all professional personnel in the public-school systems according to scales, depending on training and experience, written each year in the State budget. No subdivision would be permitted to pay in excess of 5 per centabove these scales. The State would share in the cost of these salary scales in the same way it now shares in the cost of the minimum scales specified in Article 77 of the Annotated Code.

The people of Maryland for many years have dedicated themselves to the principle that every boy and girl is entitled to an equal opportunity to an education. It is the idea that no one shall be favored or discriminated against in the educational opportunities offered at public expense, whether he lives in a community of affluence or of poverty. I, myself, subscribe to this principle without reservation.

It is evident fact that under the present system of teacher compensation, with a wide variation in pay from one county to another, this ideal of equality is not attainable. A child in Montgomery County, because of the relative wealth of the community in which he lives, has an advantage over the child in, say, Calvert County, because the former school is able to attract teachers by higher pay than the latter can afford. It is a simple but sad fact that a child, in one instance, does not have an opportunity for an education equal to that of a child in the other.

To a very great extent, the bill I have introduced would remove this discrimination.

SB 578 has many other good points, and I cite a few of them:

1. It would remove the competitive struggle among the counties in teacher recruitment, which creates an ever-widening gap between “have” and “have-not” counties in the quality of education they offer.

Frederick County, next door the richest county in the United States finds it increasingly difficult to hire qualified teachers from year to year. Many other counties share this problem.

2. It would reduce the unwholesome efforts of the power struggle between rival teacher organizations — a struggle which has already produced strikes and school closings and which threatens to grow worse. The cut-throat rivalry between these organizations thrives on the present unfair and discriminatory system, to the great detriment of the children being educated and the communities in which they exist.

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