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The Experience Gap

This year, 24 Oakland teachers — and about 750 more statewide – will each get an extra $5,000 for making a four-year commitment to a low-performing school and taking on a leadership role there.

Those teachers, who have already undergone the rigorous National Board Certification process, receive a $20,000 grant over the course of those four years as an incentive to stick around.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Incentive Award is designed to keep great teachers from heading to higher-performing schools or better-paying positions. Of course, like so many other initiatives and projects, this one could be cut short during the state budgeting process.

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell had this to say (in the news release):

 “I know many dedicated educators who need no incentive, except for the love of teaching, to educate the children who need help the most,” said O’Connell. “National Board Certified Teachers could pick and choose where they want to work. However, this wonderful program is designed to encourage some of our most highly qualified teachers to work in low-performing schools where their skills could make a dramatic difference in the lives of the children attending these schools.”

“I am concerned that in the current fiscal budget crisis, continued funding for this vital program may be in jeopardy,” added O’Connell. “As the Governor and the state Legislature work toward solutions to address this, I urge them to recognize that funding for public education programs is in the state’s best interest and to raise the revenue necessary to maintain high quality and access to education for all students.”

How vital has this program been to Oakland schools? Is $5,000 a year — $20,000 over four years — enough incentive to keep highly qualified teachers where they’re most needed?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.