Investing in teachers

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For those who still think the contract between a school district and its faculty only comes down to pay and benefits, Oak Park's District 97 elementary schools has pioneered another priority. In its past two contracts, the district vastly diminished the traditional, invisible, expensive and unproven tactic of paying teachers more for whatever often questionable continuing education credits they could rack up.

Our view is that a lot of the continuing education coursework that teachers have been piling up over the decades is a lot of hooey. Our elementary school board concluded the same thing six years ago and proposed a bold alternative. Instead of handing out random pay hikes to anyone who completed a methods in teaching middle school math course, the district put real money, genuine incentive, to fund any district teacher who would commit and complete the rigorous National Board Certification program. This takes years, but it is a cohesive effort to turn good teachers into great teachers. And here the research is clear: National Board Certified Teachers are more effective in the classroom and they are powerful mentors within their schools.

The fruits of this bold effort are now coming into view. After producing 20 NBCTs since the program began, this year 20 additional D97 teachers completed the program. Now there are 40 of these master teachers. And there are 50 more D97 teachers in the pipeline.

Saving money on the flawed random coursework giveaway of past contracts, D97 is now paying $10,000 salary bumps to teachers who complete the NBCT program. That's $10,000 per year for the rest of a teacher's career in the district. 

That's investing in teachers.

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Heather Ash from Oak Park  

Posted: January 15th, 2019 9:05 PM

Too bad you couldn't celebrate a deserving subset without taking a swipe at everyone else... but again, not surprising. National Board Certification is indeed an achievement worthy of recognition and extra pay, but it is not the only valid method for continuing teacher education. That Methods in Teaching Math course that you deride is the course that put me on the path to earn a Masters degree in Middle School Math Education, and I was lucky to have a school district that supported my coursework toward that goal. You probably don't know that continuing education credits are required by the state of Illinois for teachers to renew their licenses, and the rigor of NBC is not possible for every teacher. Your all-or-nothing view is sadly, but not surprisingly, misinformed.

Karen Mcmillin  

Posted: January 15th, 2019 5:00 PM

As a retired public school teacher, I applaud your decision!

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