Carper Unveils Plan to Improve Teacher Salaries, Accountability

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Gov. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware is calling for significant increases in teacher salaries tied to a professional-development and teacher-accountability plan.

Mr. Carper, a second-term Democrat, wants to raise the salaries of beginning teachers, which start at about $28,000, by a one-time 13 percent increase during one of their first three years, and give more experienced teachers an additional one-time 4 percent raise on top of what they currently make. In addition, teachers would be compensated for advanced skills and knowledge and for serving as academic leaders in their schools.

The plan, which the governor outlined in his State of the State Address on Jan. 21, also would gradually add an extra five days a year to teachers' schedules for professional development and create a three-tiered licensing system that would require teachers to undergo recertification every five years. Teachers' evaluations would also include details of their students' achievement.

"Our efforts to reform education hinge, in large part, on our ability to recruit and retain highly skilled, competent teachers," Mr. Carper told the legislature. He announced further details of his plan last week, including a mentoring program for new teachers and plans for expanding alternative routes to certification.

Gov. Carper also called for budget increases to expand successful discipline programs statewide and help schools hire counselors and police officers trained to deal with disruptive teenagers.

Pennsylvania Ridge Makes Second Pitch For State Voucher Program

Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania urged legislators during his annual budget address to give families earning up to $15,000 a year a $1,400-per-child grant to attend the public or private school of their choice.

The Republican governor, who began his second term last month, also proposed raising the state's per-pupil spending level by 3 percent, to $3.7 billion, and hiking aid for school district incentive grants by 25 percent, to $17 million.

This is Mr. Ridge's second bid for adoption of a voucher program. A Republican-controlled legislature defeated a similar plan proposed by Mr. Ridge in his first term as governor in 1995.

His new plan calls for raising the income threshold for eligibility annually so that in five years, families earning up to $75,000 would qualify. Up to 39,000 students would be eligible for the first year of the program, which would cost the state $63 million in fiscal 2000.

"We owe it to Pennsylvania's parents--parents who work hard and pay taxes," the governor said of the voucher proposal during his Feb. 2 budget address to a joint session of the legislature. "They deserve our support."

He also asked lawmakers to pass "academic bankruptcy" legislation, which would provide low-performing districts with technical assistance from the state, and impose sanctions if they failed to improve.

The governor's budget plan seeks Pennsylvania's largest increase ever in direct state aid for libraries--$17 million in fiscal 2000, or a 56 percent increase.

"The result?" he said to legislators, referring to the proposed library aid. "Additional hours. Bigger collections. Better service. All Pennsylvanians will benefit."

--Robert C. Johnston

Tennessee Strong Economic Outlook Continues in Tennessee

Gov. Don Sundquist

The state of the state has never been better, Gov. Don Sundquist declared to the Tennessee legislature last week.

The Republican governor, who was elected a second term in November, began his Feb. 8 State of the State Address by saying that policies during his tenure had encouraged an unprecedented period of economic growth. He cited the increase in state funding for schools from $1.88 billion to more than $2.4 billion over the past four years.

"It is precisely because our state is experiencing good times that we have the opportunity to plan ahead," the governor said. He proposed meeting the challenges of the 21st century by reducing taxes, reorganizing the state government, and stabilizing TennCare, the state's health-care program.

The governor outlined a proposal to cut business-tax rates, a measure that he argued would give the state a broad, equitable, and elastic tax base to support services such as public education.

Gov. Sundquist also explained a plan to create Cabinet-level working groups to better coordinate related services.

--Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 18, Issue 23, Page 26

Published in Print: February 17, 1999, as Carper Unveils Plan to Improve Teacher Salaries, Accountability
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