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University System of Maryland chancellor Robert B. Caret could get a $125,000 kitchen renovation in the Baltimore County mansion the system provides for its chief executive. In December, the executive committee of a foundation associated with the system discussed allocating money for the new kitchen and other work at the Hidden Waters estate. (File photo)

Caret pitches plan to keep teachers in Baltimore

USM chancellor wants colleges to support instructors, provide professional development

ANNAPOLIS – University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert L. Caret wants to bring committed teachers to Baltimore schools and encourage them to stay.

Caret, who addressed the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee in Annapolis on Tuesday, described a plan to attract new teachers with who are “missionaries at heart, that want to work in an urban environment, that want to do good” to the city and train them in city schools.

But once they are trained, the teachers will need the right support structure to keep them from burning out or seeking work elsewhere, Caret said.

That’s where the university system’s member institutions can come in – by helping provide the professional development teachers need to keep going, Caret said.

Towson University’s College of Education operates a network of professional development schools for teachers across the state, and participating teachers are more likely to stay at the same school for five years or more, Caret said.

“At most schools, you have about a 50 percent attrition [rate] after three years,” he told The Daily Record following hearing. “I think we can get some foundations to help us with that, financially. It’s just one idea I’ve floated, but that’s one that has the most traction.”

The idea is modeled on a similar initiative aimed at returning Peace Corps volunteers, who were given paid internships with city schools while they apprenticed with master teachers; the program gave them free education, a salary, and ultimately, a master’s degree, in exchange for a promise to work for the schools for a designated period, Caret said.

“That’s a place where our system … could have a significant impact,” Caret told the committee. “[In Baltimore] you have a city that, in many ways, doesn’t have a lot of hope, unless you can help give it some hope.”

Caret discussed the future of Coppin State University in West Baltimore, which has struggled with declining enrollment in recent years. But students who have transferred in, such as from community colleges, graduate at a higher rate that students who start as freshman, he said.

One solution would be to reduce the size of the freshman class, sending students who need additional preparation to community college for two years, at which point they could transfer back to complete their degrees, he said.

State Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Democrat who represents Baltimore, said he was pleased with Caret’s ideas and asked that he continue to work closely the city’s representatives.

“We need to do a lot better with those higher ed resources in the city,” McFadden said.