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Certified Teachers Too Costly for D.C.

When 11 teachers in the D.C. area won certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards last month, they did so without financial or administrative support from the city. That's because while D.C. public schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee considers certification a valuable form of professional development, she believes the funds for certified teachers could be better used elsewhere, according to the Washington Post.

Under Superintendent Clifford Janey, Rhee's predecessor, the D.C. school system helped board candidates with their applications for certification, providing both technical and financial support. (Teachers who apply for certification must pay a $2,500 application fee, which the city helped defray.) After a teacher won certification, he or she would receive a $4,000 stipend from the city.

But Rhee wants to reallocate the city's $600,000 annual investment for certification, as fewer than one percent of D.C.'s teaching force are NCBT-recognized.

"It didn't seem like the best investment," Rhee said. "It seemed to us that there was a more foundational level of professional development we needed to do with our staff." (The teachers still receive the $4,000 stipend if they become certified.)

Meanwhile, in nearby Montgomery County public schools in Maryland, the 528 board-certified teachers receive an additional $2,000 annually after winning certification; Fairfax County's 300-plus certified teachers also earn raises from both the local government and the state.

Rhee's position on certification has struck a nerve with some teachers. The National School Boards Association fired back on their blog after reading the recent Washington Post article, ending with a poignant question.

"With as much rhetoric coming out of Washington and state capitols about high teacher quality, the program is something we'd expect to hear about regarding increased funding, not the opposite. The fact is, these dedicated teachers are often leaders in and outside the classroom. If teacher-leaders stop being recognized (other than a polite thank you from administrators and parents), will they continue to lead?"

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