He Who Giveth Can Take Away

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With state budgets in bad shape, NBPTS is being forced to defend the special status often conferred upon National Board certification. Thirty-two states offer either a cash bonus or increased salaries for teachers who are NBPTS certified as "master teachers." Thirty-one states subsidize the $2,300 application fee charged by NBPTS. It's all proving to be very expensive. The bill in Georgia alone, for instance, is expected to triple from $4.7 million in FY 2004 to $15.6 million in FY 2005. As recently as 2000, Georgia spent only $100,000 statewide on National Board. Other states, particularly in the southeast, have similar stories of sticker-shock.

Summarizing some broadly held concerns about the lack of student achievement data supporting National Board certification, Georgia state Rep. Ben Harbin said," "When [NBPTS certification] is costing us over $10 million in one year, we've got to be able to prove this is improving education." Unfortunately, states have been naïve and near-sighted in failing to predict that substantial bonuses would lead to an explosion in the certificate's popularity. Compounding the problem, these state legislators--like those in Massachusetts who reneged on the bonuses offered in the MINT program--completely fail to grasp the harmful impact that breaking agreements has on teacher morale.