Thursday, April 18, 2013

HB1880 -- Good News and Bad News for NBCTs -- and Future NBCTs

HB1880 changes the way new National Board Certified Teachers will be rewarded for attaining NBC. I am thrilled that we'll have our program back. The two-year moratorium has nearly crippled us. The image I use to describe what's happened is an old clinker that's been left to rust in the front yard, nearly covered by the tall's rusting from neglect, but it's still got the potential to be that sleek vehicle it was two years ago...this bill will give us the key to turn the ignition. But at a cost to new NBCTs. My letter to the bill's author, Ann Coody.

Representative Coody,

I’m sorry I missed you at the NBCT Reception Tuesday; I saw you across the room but got delayed before I could say ‘hello’.

Thank you for continuing to search for ways to support the National Board program, and Education Leadership Oklahoma, the agency that is our ‘home’ in all ways.

I appreciate the intent of HB1880, which you authored, but I have some concerns and questions. I hope you can clarify my confusions.
  • ·         On page 8, you set out the conditions for current NBCTs – they will receive the $5000 bonus for ten years. Does this begin with the 2014 year? Will renewed NBCTs be eligible for the life of their renewed certificate? What about NBCTs who are ready to renew in the next few years? Will this bill allow them to combine the last years of their original certificate and years on their renewed certificate to equal ten years? That will make a huge difference in the decisions of thousands of NBCTs across the state.
  • ·         I appreciate your designating January 31 as the deadline for payments of stipends. That’s in the current bill and has been violated for the last two years. NBCTs jumped hoops and still didn’t get their stipend payments in January…or February. Some didn’t receive their money until March. I’m trusting this will not be the case in the future.
  • ·         But, my biggest concerns and most serious questions focus on the changes for new NBCTs once we get our program up and running again.
  • ·         $1200 as a step raise equals around $850 after taxes. Or around $70 per month. This amount will hardly make a difference to a teacher who’s trying to stay in the classroom, which is the intent of this program.
  • ·         In order to earn the $50,000 current NBCTs earn, an NBCT would have to work for 41.67 years…just to earn the same amount I earned in ten for the same certification.
  • ·         On page 9, the language of the bill states new NBCTs will earn the step raise of $1200 if their ‘National Board Certification has not lapsed.’ National Board certification is only current for 10 years. After that, an NBCT must renew, at a cost of $1250. Does your bill require NBCTs to continue renewing their certification in order to receive the step? It certainly appears to be the case. With the small pay-off for NBC, will the state pay the renewal fee for NBCTs? Right now we pay this fee out of our own pocket, understanding the state has made a substantial investment in our teaching.
  • ·         So, let’s return to that teacher trying to earn in step raises what current NBCTs earn: $50,000. That teacher, working 41.67 years, will be required to renew that certification four times, at a cost of $1250 for each renewal…forcing the NBCT to work four more years to make up the money lost in fees.
  • ·         And my biggest concern: Who pays for these step raises? Will the state send districts enough money to cover all the new NBCTs’ step raise? Or, is this going to be an unfunded mandate to school districts? Will they be forced to find the money in their squeezed budgets? If so, NBCTs will be a liability for a district instead of an asset. Who will pay FICA, since the state has shorted districts for the past two years, and that money has come out of OUR checks?

You have sold this bill as a positive move for teachers since the step raise will count toward retirement. TRS only counts the three highest-earning years toward retirement. So, if a teacher’s NBC lapses because she chooses not to renew, her salary actually will decrease – if I read page 9 correctly. But as she continues to teach, her years of experience will quickly trump whatever bump the NBCT step gave her, making NBC less attractive.

Only three years of NBCT step raises will count toward retirement: $3600. I’ll be contacting TRS to ask how much of a benefit $3600 will be for a teacher. I fear I know the answer.

I see your changes to the system as a bad deal for teachers who are waiting to go through the NBCT process. This process was more rigorous and challenging than my master’s degree, and for some candidates, takes three years to complete…the last two years at their own expense.

If you’re trying to discourage teachers from going through this process, making the salary step equivalent to a master’s degree – and then taking it away if NBC expires –  will do just that.

I’m hoping we can talk through some of my concerns, because the best thing about your bill, the thing I love, is that we get our ELO program back! We can go out into the front yard and climb into that rusty car we’ve left neglected in the weeds. We can climb into the driver’s seat and turn on the ignition…and hope it starts to purr.

Having the ELO program back, running our Summer Institute, having support meetings again fills my heart with joy. Our program has suffered through this moratorium. My Region 11 Candidate Support meetings used to include 50-60 candidates and NBCTs, all working together to become better teachers, to reach our students. They were exciting, vibrant meeting with professional conversations about students and student learning. This year my meetings have dwindled to three or four, or sometimes six teachers.

We need our program back, and, and even with my concerns, I see your bill giving us back the keys to that rusty car. We know how to drive it, and we know we can make this work.

No comments:

Post a Comment