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Bittersweet day for newly minted National Board Certified Teachers as bonuses are at risk

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Dec. 15, 2010 at 3:03 pm with 4 Comments »
December 15, 2010 3:50 pm

Washington state added nearly 1,300 teachers Wednesday to its growing group of teachers who have passed the rigorous certification program offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Washington’s class of 1,272 was the second most in the nation, behind North Carolina which pioneered the program. It now has the fourth most NBCT in the country with 5,247.

But on the day the class was announced, Gov. Chris Gregoire called for the elimination of a bonus program that both compensates teachers for the expense of gaining certification and to encourage them to do so. Gregoire would end the $5,000 annual bonus for all NBCTs and the extra $5,000 for those who teach in so-called challenging schools – those with the most poverty and lowest achievement.

Technically Gregoire is calling for the program to be suspended, not ended. It will save the state nearly $100 million in the 2011-13 two-year budget. It could be reinstated in subsequent budget years but as the program becomes more successful and as more teachers pursue and win certification, the bonuses become more expensive for budget writers.

Still, the bonuses are the only program the state has to reward the best teachers and the only program to encourage the best teachers to take assignments in the toughest schools. About one-quarter of the NBCTs teach in such schools.

It will especially painful for many in this class that took the state up on a conditional loan program it just started. The state agreed to pay $2,000 of the $2,500 fee and would take repayment out of the successful teachers’ first annual bonus. But if there’s no bonus, there’s no direct way to recover the loan and those teachers may have to come up with the tuition money themselves.

Jim Crawford, an education budget analyst for the state Office of Financial Management, the governor’s budget office, said the suspension of the bonus won’t kick in until next school year so the teachers certified today will get the bonus this year. Teachers who took out the loan but are still pursuing certification could possibly still be helped, Crawford said.

“They’ve raised a legitimate problem we need to go to work on,” Crawford said.

Here’s the press release announcing the new class.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. padrefan says:

    As one of those teachers going through the process right now, I’m not quite sure what I should do– keep going in the process, and end up owing the state $2,000 dollars for something they promised would be covered?

  2. Flanagan says:

    It’s interesting how many are going into the teaching profession knowing the pay. Let’s not hear any complaints, please. As for continuing education, pay for it yourself.

  3. siragwatkins says:

    Seems to me that the teachers don’t owe the $ until they get the first bonuses it was agreed would pay back the loan.
    I’m not sure, as a former teacher, that additional certifications improve teaching effectiveness, and adding additional requirements contributes to an already-existing shortage of good teachers, but bureaucracies run on numbers, and classes and certs can be counted.
    I’d prefer to see bonuses given to teachers whse students performed better than the average for their school and/or area, but they’d probably measure that with tests, too.

  4. siragwatkins says:

    And BTW, when I left a professional-level state job in NY to become a teacher I took about a 25% salary cut.
    By the time we moved back to WA, where I again had a professional-level state job, requiring the same level of education as teaching, teachers were being paid more for 10 months with shorter hurs and longer vacations than I was being paid for 12.
    Which is not to say that teachers are overpaid, but in comparison….

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