Oklahoma's National Board Certified Teachers' Bonuses To Be Reduced

Friday, January 28th 2011, 2:16 pm
By: News 9

Jacqueline Sit, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Board of Education recently voted to reduce the amount of bonuses paid to teachers who have National Board certification.

The board voted to cut the pay from $5,000 to $3,900 for the annual bonus for full-time certified teachers.

"This is our only accolade besides higher education," Edmond Santa Fe High School teacher Adria Smith, said. "I think a lot of people are going to be upset that we were promised one thing and now because of money constraints that's going to be taken away from us."

Oklahoma ranks ninth in the nation for the number of National Board Certified teachers and getting certified is a grueling process. Smith said the reduction could hurt many teachers who rely on it financially.

"With taxes, we'll probably be getting half of what we used to get and this is going to affect a lot of teachers who already pay for school supplies out of their own pockets," Smith said. "They rely on that money and it's the only way teachers can really progress. It's the only way we can go forward unless you're a principal and a coach and the National Board process really helps you practice."

Smith said it's her passion for children that keeps her working as an educator.

"It's intense and it is hard work but I love to see my students grow," Smith said.

But she believes the change in bonus could deter future generations of teachers from getting their certification, especially since it costs thousands of dollars to get certified.

"I know it said if possible in the law but it just it really hurts and you're demoralizing the people that constantly lift up the next generation and so it's not a good message to send," she said.

Smith said there are a lot of teachers, like herself, who want to use that money to get their masters but with the cuts, that's not going to happen anymore.

The stipend is a benefit to keep Oklahoma teachers from leaving the state since teacher salaries are so low here. First year teachers average $31,000 a year.