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Voice: Teachers shape country's future

June 26, 2002

American teachers are getting a lot of attention these days.

Some praise us, some criticize us, but few would deny the power we have to shape the future of our country. The public wants answers, and so do we. That's why I would like to invite Imperial Valley citizens interested in improving education to consider supporting a local teacher in obtaining national board certification.

In an effort to jump-start education, states are piling up requirements on their teachers. More classes and tests are required to become a teacher, more paperwork once you do become a teacher, but few chances are given to meditate on the meaning, reason and success of it all.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers teachers a rigorous process for doing just that. National board certification is extended to teachers who complete satisfactorily a process of professional development in which they demonstrate that their practice is consistent with NBPTS's five core propositions: 1) Teachers are committed to students and their learning 2) Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students 3) Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning 4) Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience, and 5) Teachers are members of learning communities.


The certification process takes about 200 hours and can be completed in one year or extended up to three years. Teachers take a written test and complete a portfolio that includes their original descriptive, analytical, and reflective writing, video footage of their teaching and documents that demonstrate their achievement in advancing student learning.

All activities leading to national board certification can be summed up in these four questions: What have you done inside and outside the classroom to advance student learning? How well has it worked? How do you know? What do you need to do next?

The state of California rewards successful candidates with $10,000 and additional incentives if they teach at underperforming schools, but the upfront assessment fee is $2,300, which can mean a month's take-home salary for a teacher.

In 2001-2002, the first cadre of Imperial Valley teachers to seek national board certification, myself included, were able to secure substantial scholarships through our districts, the state and the national government. This year there will be more applicants and less money available. Having experienced this as the most thorough and practical professional growth experience in my 13-year teaching career, I would like other teachers to have the same opportunity.

If you or your service organizations agree with NBPTS's vision for accomplished teaching, I urge you to put your money where your heart is. Provide a scholarship for an Imperial Valley teacher seeking national board certification. Call your school and make sure that your child's teacher has a chance to find the answers we all seek.


Calexico teacher

Imperial resident

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