As government officials look back on the budget cuts of 2011 and prepare for 2012, the funding for National Board Certification is once again at the forefront.


As government officials look back on the budget cuts of 2011 and prepare for 2012, the funding for National Board Certification is once again at the forefront.

 

Sen. Randy Bass, a Democrat from Lawton, said last week he requested an official opinion from the attorney general on whether it is mandatory to pay National Board Certified teachers an annual $5,000 stipend.

 

Bass said he believes that funding the program is mandatory and that educators deserve to know whether there will be financial incentives for completing the program.

 

The State Board of Education voted to withhold funding the bonuses this year after cash-strapped lawmakers slashed the public education budget. The board also eliminated funding for a scholarship program to help defray the costs to teachers seeking National Board certification.

 

The board’s proposed budget for next year would reinstate funding to these programs.

 

Sen. Frank Simpson said that while he is willing to take a look at the value of the program itself, the Legislature does need to pay the incentives.

 

“The fact is the Legislature made a commitment and needs to follow that,” Simpson said.

 

Earning National Board Certification is a yearlong assessment process that teachers can choose to undertake to supplement their current state certifications.

 

Recipients are announced before Thanksgiving and the certification is good for 10 years. Oklahoma ranks ninth in the nation with more than 2,599 National Board Certified teachers.

 

Newly certified Dayna Stephens of Lone Grove teaches digital video production at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center. She will not be receiving the bonus she expected when she began the certification process.

 

“It’s disappointing, but it’s still the best professional development I’ve ever received,” she said.

 

According to Stephens, the application process helped her evaluate her classroom practices. She identified practices of her own that didn’t benefit students so she could stop doing them.

 

She also developed a network with other career education teachers and learned new practices.

 

“It’s a pretty tough process, and I’m grateful it turned out,” Stephens said.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.