Sen. Sean Burrage today said State Superintendent Janet Barresi's decision to defund the National Board Certification Teacher (NBCT) incentive program represents an epic failure of leadership.
“This is a slap in the face to our best and brightest teachers,” said Burrage, D-Claremore. “Having for years assured Oklahoma teachers of this incentive for their efforts at achieving National Board Certification, funding this program is not just our legal duty, it is a moral obligation.”
“In a statement following the announcement of this year’s budget agreement, Superintendent Barresi said the budget situation was an opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of programs and to repurpose funds for top priorities,” Burrage said. “The complete elimination of funding for NBCT bonuses sends a clear message to Oklahoma teachers that financial incentives for achievement are among the lowest of priorities for the State Department of Education.”
Barresi recently suggested she was encouraging school districts to utilize their share of a $33 million appropriation for textbooks and instructional materials as a potential source of funding for NBCT bonuses. Burrage said this places districts in a precarious position, as school districts were not informed that funding for NBCT scholarships and bonuses would be completely eliminated. The possibility that health insurance benefits may not be fully funded could mark a second broken promise to Oklahoma teachers.
“Superintendent Barresi appears to be putting the state in a position where it is not keeping its word to Oklahoma teachers,” said Burrage. “When we were told the Department of Education would seek innovation and new ways of doing business, this is not what we had in mind. In the face of significant across-the-board cuts, it is absurd to suggest that school districts come up with the money to fund this program. Superintendent Barresi’s statements are troubling, and represent a failure of leadership for our schools.”