This is good news for the state’s National Board Certified teachers: Some key folks in the General Assembly want to restore their bonuses.
Some states are debating whether a salary boost for National Board Certified teachers is a good investment, suggesting that bonuses might better go to teachers with proven track records of raising student achievement rather than to teachers who earn the certification. Sometimes, they are one and the same. Sometimes, they are not.
Georgia has been a leader in urging teachers to seek certification ever since ex Gov. Roy Barnes became impressed with the program. (He continues to be a national champion of it.)
I have interviewed Georgia teachers who said the certification process was grueling and a few who said it was a cinch. I have been impressed with the certified teachers I have met, although I can’t speak to their records of increasing student achievement.
According to the AJC story:
The session begins Jan. 11, about five months after educators who had earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards began seeing smaller paychecks because of state budget cuts.
The Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teachers group, sued the state over the reduction in pay supplements in October, arguing that lawmakers had no right to cut the 10 percent supplements that board-certified teachers had been promised.
House Rules Chairman Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) agrees, and he thinks the General Assembly will restore the supplements during the session.
“Legally, it is an obligation,” he said. “I think you’re going to see the House Appropriations Committee make the decision to put it [supplement money] back in. Everybody we obligated it to needs to be paid.”
Seeking reductions to balance the state budget last spring, lawmakers cut the supplements almost in half, costing many nationally certified teachers $3,000 to $4,000. For a lot of teachers, that was on top of furloughs and pay cuts local districts implemented.
Jolinda Collins, a nationally certified language arts teacher at Brookwood High School in Gwinnett County, said she understands the state’s fiscal situation.
Because of falling tax revenue during the recession, lawmakers have slashed the state budget about $3 billion in the past year or so. More will be cut during the upcoming session.
Still, Collins said, “To force teachers to take serious pay cuts in this way is disrespectful and unacceptable, especially when some state employees get a bonus.
“Suddenly losing 10 percent of my income that I have depended on for eight years has been difficult. Combined with three days of furlough that we’ve had so far, it’s devastating. My paychecks since August are $450 less than in July.
“I guess the governor and legislators don’t know what it’s like to earn so little money that a 10 percent loss creates a crisis in the household.”
Teachers who earn national board certification in Georgia have been getting salary supplements for more than a decade. They say they were promised a 10 percent pay supplement if they went through the arduous certification process, which can take more than a year and costs $2,500.
So let’s discuss: Is this a good incentive program or should bonuses go to teachers whose students show the greatest growth year to year?