State bill aims to award nationally certified teachers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Colin DuRant

The Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee for Education approved Senate Bill 1879 on April 2, which awards Oklahoma Educators that have received National Board Certification a $5,000 pay stipend for the 2013 school year as well as the next 10 school years.

The bill, which the Oklahoma Senate has already passed, will now move on to the primary Appropriations Committee, then put before the House. The Associated Press reported that the subcommittee originally defeated the legislation on March 26 due to concerns about a “performance-pay system” within the bill.

Oklahoma Representative Ann Coody of Lawton, a former educator, co-authored the bill with Senator John W. Ford of Bartlesville. After the initial defeat, Coody rewrote language within the bill, which went on to meet the approval of the education subcommittee 10-1.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Representative Coody said she felt the legislation upheld a commitment to Oklahoma educators who received the certification.

“It keeps a promise to them,” Coody said. “We need to guarantee our teachers that they are going to get what was promised.”

The National Board Certification comes from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), a non-profit organization. According to their website, the NBPTS offers 25 certificate areas in which teachers can receive certification through an intensive process involving examinations and portfolios.

Nationally Board Certified English Teacher Jennifer Keller said the certification process enhanced her teaching and she believes anyone who goes through it will come out with a teaching edge.

“This process requires you to think about your teaching in a way you never have before,” Keller said. “It makes you remember that you’re not teaching en masse. You’re teaching to individuals.”

The rewritten bill makes it restrictive for non-certified educators to get into the program and receive the stipend. According to the bill, only those teachers who have obtained certification, been selected for the Education Leadership Oklahoma program or submitted an application for National Board certification prior to June 30, 2010 will be guaranteed the $5,000.

Representative Coody told the Associated Press that those newly certified may be eligible for a reduced stipend eventually, but those changes have yet to be determined.

“We can’t sustain $5,000 a year,” Coody said. “We have to see what we can do.”

The bill estimates the total cost of the program as being $14,845,700 for the 2013 school year, a figure that also includes the bonuses for nationally certified school psychologists and audiologists.

According to numbers from the Department of Education’s Digest of Education Statistics, an annually released report, as of the 2009-2010 school year Oklahoma ranks 48th in the nation for estimated average salary of teachers in public elementary or secondary schools, falling $11,000 below the national average.

According The Oklahoman, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi removed the National Board Certified Teacher stipend from the state education budget for fiscal year 2012 in June 2011. When questioned about the cuts by News on 6 in Tulsa, Barresi defended her decisions about which budget cuts needed to made.

“It’s an issue of the fiscal reality of this state,” Barresi said. “I remember sitting in this room and talking to staff members and I said, ‘This is the decision point. Is this going to be about funding children and education programs for them and direct impact in the classroom? Or is this going to be about making adults happy?”

Keller said state officials emphasized during National Board training that the bonuses would only be available if the money was in the budget, but she felt that the move showed the state didn’t place value on the work she and other Nationally Board Certified teachers had done.

“I’m here for my students one way or another,” Keller said. “With or without the money, I’ll still be here in the classroom for my kids.”

For the lost fiscal year 2012 bonuses, the Oklahoma Senate, House and Governor passed Senate Bill 1959 in March that retroactively restored the bonus for Nationally Board Certified Oklahoma teachers. Certified educators will receive a $5,000 pay stipend as part of a larger emergency funding package.

In an official statement, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said the bill was both urgent and necessary.

“Today’s supplemental funding measures will help to ensure the state of Oklahoma is keeping its commitment to our teachers,” Fallin said.

“This process requires you to think about your teaching in a way you never have before,” Keller said. “It makes you remember that you’re not teaching en masse. You’re teaching to individuals.”

The rewritten bill makes it restrictive for non-certified educators to get into the program and receive the stipend.

According to the bill, only those teachers who have obtained certification, been selected for the Education Leadership Oklahoma program or submitted an application for National Board certification prior to June 30, 2010 will be guaranteed the $5,000.

Representative Coody told the Associated Press that those newly certified may be eligible for a reduced stipend eventually, but those changes have yet to be determined.

“We can’t sustain $5,000 a year,” Coody said. “We have to see what we can do.”

The bill estimates the total cost of the program as being $14,845,700 for the 2013 school year, a figure that also includes the bonuses for nationally certified school psychologists and audiologists.

According to numbers from the Department of Education’s Digest of Education Statistics, an annually released report, as of the 2009-2010 school year Oklahoma ranks 48th in the nation for estimated average salary of teachers in public elementary or secondary schools, falling $11,000 below the national average.

According The Oklahoman, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi removed the National Board Certified Teacher stipend from the state education budget for fiscal year 2012 in June 2011.

When questioned about the cuts by News on 6 in Tulsa, Barresi defended her decisions about which budget cuts needed to made.

“It’s an issue of the fiscal reality of this state,” Barresi said. “I remember sitting in this room and talking to staff members and I said, ‘This is the decision point. Is this going to be about funding children and education programs for them and direct impact in the classroom? Or is this going to be about making adults happy?”

Keller said state officials emphasized during National Board training that the bonuses would only be available if the money was in the budget, but she felt that the move showed the state didn’t place value on the work she and other Nationally Board Certified teachers had done.

“I’m here for my students one way or another,” Keller said. “With or without the money, I’ll still be here in the classroom for my kids.”

For the lost fiscal year 2012 bonuses, the Oklahoma Senate, House and Governor passed Senate Bill 1959 in March that retroactively restored the bonus for Nationally Board Certified Oklahoma teachers. Certified educators will receive a $5,000 pay stipend as part of a larger emergency funding package.

In an official statement, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said the bill was both urgent and necessary.

“Today’s supplemental funding measures will help to ensure the state of Oklahoma is keeping its commitment to our teachers,” Fallin said.

 

 

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