Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Who Says the Union Can’t Host a Healthy Debate?

Last month WE Magazine, the official newspaper of the WEA, published a letter from Dwayne Brecto of Grandview chiding the association for their support of the National Board Certification. This month there are 4 responses, 1 in agreement and 3 arguing the other side. I’ll give credit where credit is due—the WEA could have very easily turfed Brecto’s letter and kept to the party line, but they didn’t, and that’s a pleasent level of openness.

I’m very publicly on record as being anti-NBPTS, because I’ve never heard a completely convincing argument for the merits of the Certification, and it seems odd for the association to be pushing so hard and using our dues monies to promote a program that benefits so few teachers in Washington. One comment from the magazine sticks out to me:

Between the sate grant opportunities and professional growth grants provided by my district, I paid nothing but sweat, tears and time away from my family to gain my national board certificate.

The NBPTS says that the process takes between 200 and 400 hours; the cost involved is better than $2000. You might get the money piece covered, but some of us don’t want to have to spend that much more time away from our families working on the job.

That, then, is the inequity of the National Board—if you have young children, if you have family commitments, if you’re already committed to your school on the most visceral level, then you’re not going to have the time without taking away from other areas. I’d rather the WEA take the money that they’re spending on National Board certification and push it into something more worthwhile, like finding some sort of real direction for Take the Lead.

I hope that the conversation continues.


DrPezz said...

Interesting thoughts, Ryan. I tend to agree with you but also have a couple other, albeit selfish, reasons for not being a proponent of the NBPTS.

I would really only do it for my ego's sake since the long-term pay really doesn't make a huge dent when at the maxed out side of the pay scale. I feel the same way about a doctorate right now. The only incentive for me is my own arrogance when I don't plan on leaving the classroom any time soon.

I also do not plan to leave the state, so knowing I can teach elsewhere without much tedious extra coursework doesn't impress me either.

My wife and I are planning on starting a family, which also makes me greatly hesitant to begin such a ponderous project.

To be honest, a few of my friends completed the NBPTS and felt it really did not alter their teaching much, at least not enough to justify the time and monetary costs.

The Science Goddess said...

I think that the National Board Certification process can serve as some intense and meaningful professional development---however, I don't believe that its pursuit should be monetarily supported by any district. Why not? Districts do not pay for teachers who pursue their Master's degree, PhD, and/or EdD.

There has not been any evidence that NB teachers are more effective in the classroom (even the research commissioned by the NBPTS showed this).

It's a great professional growth opportunity...nothing more.

Jim Anderson said...

TSG, no research? Hmm... there are mixed results, but some definitely show improvement.

The biggest hurdle to clear results is statistical. Teachers who are likely to go through the process aren't a random sample. At least, not at present, for the reasons drpezz lists above, and others.

In fact, maybe it's because only the best and brightest go for NBPTS in the first place. Obviously--I mean, I'm starting the program this summer... proof positive.

Friends and colleagues swear by the program; I'll trust their results over datasets across grade levels and teaching styles.

drpezz, I wish I were at the point where I could turn down $50,000 over ten years. :)

Nuss said...

The time commitment also seems to be a hindrance to those of us who devote a lot of time outside the classroom to extracurricular activities.

Those things -- in my case, newspaper and soon to be yearbook -- take enough of me away from my family. I can't even fathom spending the time it would take to do board certification.

Procert is bad enough.

DrPezz said...

I think the money--when weighed against time with family and friends, my extra duties with the school, and working on my home--isn't a good trade-off. My home improvements alone could make up for the NBPTS money in our housing market.

I also could be a bit negative since I completed my masters while teaching, and it was exhausting and frustrating trying to work full time and complete the coursework. Bad memories. :)

Maybe in the future I'll change my mind.