Sunday, February 19, 2012

OK Lawmakers are attempting to destroy the National Board program

A little background: years ago Oklahoma Legislature created a program of scholarships, professional development, support groups for  National Board candidates, and annual stipends for National Board Certified Teachers. Nearly 3000 of us answered the challenge, but we've seen support erode to nearly nothing. This year several bills have been introduced that will either kill the program quickly, as the Senate Bill I've written about, or slowly strangle the program out of existence. Our State Superintendent of Schools, a dentist who was on a board for a charter school, has made no secret of the fact she wants the money the state promised to NBCTs for other projects...her new voucher law will distribute tax credits for wealthy donors to private schools equal to the NBCT stipends she refused to fund.

SB 1879 will quickly kill the entire program, and the money saved will be used for a teacher 'merit pay' scheme. My letter is addressed to members of the Senate Education Committee.

I open and close with a reminder of a pot-luck lunch we invited them all to attend with us...not one member attended. Not one responded to the invitation.

I am the host of the NBC support meeting and Pot Luck lunch you were invited to, I'm sorry the invitation came so late...we will be holding meetings and hope to see you in the future. We'll be getting another invitation to you...but tonight I'm writing about SB 1879.

As a long-time teacher in the state of Oklahoma, as a teacher who has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary over the 30+ years because I've chosen to teach in this state; as a teacher who took the state's challenge to hold myself accountable to the highest Standards in my profession; as an NBCT, I strongly urge you to defeat SB 1879. Doing anything less will be to send a strong statement to all the children of our state that their teachers are not valued -- that the state government does not keep its promises. That the strongest teachers in the state do not matter. That students' being taught by the best teachers is not a priority of our state lawmakers.

I'm approaching the end of my career; I renewed my NBC because I did not intend to retire as a former NBCT. But now I look into the faces of young teachers who should have the same opportunity as I did to analyze their practices, to become the best teachers they can, to find meaningful ways to impact student learning. I see young teachers who will never, if you pass this bill, ever have the support of ELO with scholarships and professional development and quality, ethical support throught their process of pursuing NBC. They will never have the opportunity to contribute to their family's financial well-being. Teachers' families sacrifice for their decision to teach. We do it willingly, but NBC offered us a chance to create a better life for our families. You will be cutting that opportunity for other teachers and their familes.

Oklahoma is a national leader in NBCTs, and in our amazing support program. It's ONE education success story in a state that is notorious for its lack of support for quality education, and yet SB 1879 would destroy it and send us tumbling down -- again -- into the basement of state rankings.

I am currently working with teachers who are paying their own way through NBC. They hope the state would lift the moratorium on stipends when it said it would. They hope the state will make good on the stipends when they certify. I am also working with amazing bright young teachers who are doing the Take One! process: one Entry for NBC that will be scored and the scores 'banked' for a time so the teacher can pursue full NBC. All these teachers will be left high and dry by their state policymakers. They will be ignored by their lawmakers.

I also work with young teachers who are approching the time in their career that they're ready for NBC...ready to be honest about what works and doesn't work in their classrooms. Ready to become the best teachers they can be.

SB 1879 will rip the heart out of thousands of teachers in this state, teachers working with hundreds of thousands of students and parents.

SB 1879 will decimate Oklahoma education for a generation.

Please, for the children: do the right thing and defeat this bill. Look for real solutions, include educators in your solutions. Please respond to our invitations to work with you...


  1. This is a strong and passionate letter from an educated, passionate professional. I see less support from our state for all of the regular folk, and a clear message that there is no value in education. I appreciate your clear and concise communication of these important issues. Who will read them? Anyone in power?

  2. Lisa Mom, if they DO read, they ignore...that's one reason I share on FB and Twitter...I want people to KNOW what we're saying...then the policymakers can't pretend ignorance. Right now, I think there are precious few listening...but the ones who DO listen are sincere -- and on our side.