Solution needed to aid Oklahoma's nationally certified teachers
Legislators need to find solution to benefit Oklahoma's nationally certified teachers
EARNING national board certification is a difficult process for teachers, taking up to 18 months and costing more than $2,500. Some Oklahoma teachers say that it's more demanding than getting a master's degree.
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In a state with many struggling public schools, these teachers deserve to be rewarded for their efforts in honing their teaching skills. However, the current system of giving them $5,000 annual bonuses — suspended last year because of budget cuts — has some shortcomings.
The issue will be debated in the Legislature this session. Three legislators have proposed bills that would finish paying bonuses to the state's 3,300 National Board Certified Teachers. But the bills differ on what to do with the program after that. Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, wants to phase out the program and use the money for a new teacher bonus system. Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, wants to put it on hold. Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, wants to reinstate it.
We favor fulfilling the promise of the $5,000 bonuses for 10 years for current NBCT recipients, then revising the reward program for future nationally certified teachers. Several alternative rewards merit consideration by the Legislature. Some of these suggestions were offered by Robyn Hilger, the 2006 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, in a 2011 guest column for The Oklahoman:
• Board-certified teachers could be exempt from the last-in, first-out hiring practice.
• The certification could be factored into the salary scale, just as teachers are rewarded for achieving a master's degree.
• Local districts could choose to reward nationally certified teachers for significant work contributed to the district and profession.
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