May 03, 2007

SEN. CARDIN INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN BILL TO GIVE TAX BREAK TO MASTER TEACHERS FOR TEACHING IN UNDER-PERFORMING SCHOOLS

Susan Sullam: 410-962-4436


WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin today joined Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) in introducing bipartisan legislation to create a group of highly-qualified "master teachers" who will receive a break on their federal income taxes for teaching in a school that fail to meet standards defined under the No Child Left Behind Act .

In agreeing to teach in an under-performing school, the Master Teacher Act would exempt "master teachers" from paying federal taxes on 25% of their income for up to a four-year period. An under-performing school is one that fails to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as defined in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA).

"Education is the key to success in our global economy, and it's time that we do more to ensure our children can compete," said Senator Cardin. "We must commit to improving under-performing schools and we can do that by recruiting highly skilled teachers who will work for at least four years in a school that needs significant improvement as defined by the NCLBA."

"This legislation is critical to ensuring that our country continues improve the education of America's children by investing in the very individuals who dedicate their lives to them; their teachers," said Senator Snowe. "It is imperative that we do more to motivate the nation's finest teachers to bring their skills to all learning establishments, especially the lowest achieving schools who need it most. By providing students in all corners of the country with the best resources, we are offering them greater opportunities to achieve their full potential."

Senator Cardin's bill defines "master teacher" as someone who has had five years of teaching experience in a public elementary or secondary school, holds a master's degree, meets the definition of Highly Qualified as defined by the NCLBA, and has obtained advanced certification in their state licensing system or is certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards if their state does not have an advanced certification designation.

As currently designated by the NCLBA, 100% of our nation's students must meet the AYP standards in reading, math and science by the 2013-14 school year. Currently, out of Maryland's 1,420 public schools, 311 failed to meet the AYP standards.

Summary of the bill is below:

The Master Teacher Act

Summary: The Master Teacher Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to exclude from gross income up to 25 percent of the wages earned by a certified master teacher in certain schools identified as in need of improvement or in a Head Start program. The Act defines "certified master teacher" as a teacher who: (1) has at least five years teaching experience in a public elementary or secondary school; (2) is highly qualified as defined by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965; (3) has a master's degree; and (4) has advanced certification in the applicable State licensing system. The exclusion ends after 2013.

Goals:

  • To establish a class of "Master Teachers" that would have extensive experience and training and would be willing to teach for an extended period of time in schools that need them the most;

  • To close student achievement gaps by improving the quality/experience of their teachers; and

  • To make obtaining advanced training and experience in teaching more desirable.

How the Program Works: In order to attract "Master Teachers" to the lowest performing schools in the country, the Master Teacher Act would allow 25% of these teachers' salaries to be tax exempt for the four years they work in a school that has been identified as not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and eligible for school-wide programs as defined by NCLB. Each state would have a cap of 10% of public school teachers eligible to receive Master Teacher tax treatment at a time. The program would go into effect in 2007 and end with the 2013/2014 school year, when NCLB requires that 100% of students perform at the proficient level. Even when a school is found to be meeting AYP standards during a teacher's four years in the Master Teacher program, they will continue to receive the full tax benefit until the end of their four-year term.

Definitions:
  • Master Teacher : A teacher who holds a masters degree, has 5 years of public-school teaching experience, meets the definition of "highly qualified" as defined by NCLB, AND has advanced certification in his/her state licensing system OR is certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards if his/her state does not have an advanced certification designation.

  • Highly Qualified : As defined by NCLB, a teacher who has full state certification or has passed the state licensing exam, and holds a degree to teach in that state.

  • Adequate Yearly Progress : As defined by NCLB, every state is required to identify which schools have made AYP. According to the Department of Education, "a State's definition of AYP is based on expectations for growth in student achievement that is continuous and substantial, such that all students are proficient in reading and math no later than 2013-2014." All schools, and all students within each school, must meet their state's standard of proficiency in reading, math, and science by the 2013/2014 school year.

  • Use of Funds for School-Wide Programs : A local educational agency may use funds for school-wide programs is 40% or more of the school's students are from low-income families.

  • Advanced Teacher Certification : The highest level of teaching certification in a state licensing system.