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Letters to the Editor
 

Teachers, taxpayers told conflicting stories


Shelly Campbell July 6th, 2011

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that the stipends for National Board Certified Teachers had been cut from the education budget.

Disappointed, because I know the difference a National Board Certified Teacher can make in a school and classroom.

National Board Certification is believed to be one of the most studied interventions in the field of education. In the most rigorous and comprehensive study to date about National Board Certification, the nonpartisan National Research Council found that students taught by NBCTs make higher gains on achievement tests than students taught by other teachers.

I am a better teacher than I was before the national certification process. I also learned the value of National Board Teachers sharing what they learned through mentoring, training other teachers, serving as an instructional leader and assuming other school leadership positions. Research indicates such sharing of knowledge is happening throughout the country, spreading the program’s influence and improving teaching.

Teachers and taxpayers are being told conflicting stories. Teachers are told that we need to be held more accountable in the classroom, and then our state penalizes teachers who have taken the initiative to pursue a rigorous professional development program for the benefit of their students.

We are told Oklahoma should have incentive pay for teachers, and then the funding is cut for the only merit-based pay system for Oklahoma educators. Though it was made clear to NBCTs that funding was not guaranteed and was based on our state’s budget, I — like so many others — assumed that our state would continue to support teachers who have gone above and beyond.

This is a tough time for many Oklahomans, and creating a balanced budget means difficult decisions. Yet I want to urge policymakers to reconsider this decision and ask that the private sector consider coming forward to support this program, as well. The uncertainty of this cut puts in jeopardy the future sustainability of this critical training program and could ultimately affect the quality of teachers in Oklahoma classrooms.

—Shelly Campbell, Edmond

Campbell, a teacher at John Marshall High School, is a National Board Certified Teacher and the 2011-12 Oklahoma City Public Schools District Teacher of the Year.

 
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