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Lawmakers weigh education, school board reforms

Sen. Bill Ferguson wants school administrators to be able to fire teachers for "ineffectiveness," one of several education reforms the new Baltimore senator is seeking this year. And at a hearing yesterday, lawmakers heard competing Baltimore County school board bills.

The Sun's Erica L. Green noted in a recent story that Ferguson is "a former teacher who served as special assistant to city schools CEO Andrés Alonso before he was elected" and that his co-sponsored legislation "mirrors recent dialogue in Baltimore."

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"The city teachers union said that it's premature for the new legislator to take aim at reforms already under way, particularly as a statewide council is in the process of developing a new evaluative method that will make 50 percent of teacher evaluations based on student performance," Green wrote.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County legislators, as they do nearly every year, are wrestling with the concept of adding elected members to the county's all-appointed school board. Sen. Bobby Zirkin wants elected members, but Sen. Katherine Klausmeier suggests a study -- a plan supported by County Executive Kevin Kamentz.

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As The Sun's Raven L. Hill wrote today, this year's school board battle comes at a time when the system is under fire for lack of transparency on contracts. The system awarded a lucrative, multi-year education software contract to a Georgia company with ties to Superintendant Joe A. Hairston -- without seeking competitive bids.


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