Monday, February 26, 2001

Taft supports teacher program

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has thrown his support behind teachers who go through the voluntary process of earning national board certification.

        The certification is considered the highest credential in the teaching profession. Teachers go through a yearlong assessment of their skills that includes a lengthy portfolio, a videotaped classroom lesson and a day of testing.

        “Skilled teachers enable all students to succeed,” Mr. Taft said Friday in a prepared statement. “That's why we are proud that Ohio is a national leader in the number of national board certified teachers.”

        The governor proposes spending almost $80 million in state funds on teacher professional development in the coming biennial budget, and increasing the number of national board-certified teachers is a key component in his education reform plan.

        Mr. Taft proposed paying the national board certification application fee - at $2,300 per teacher - for 1,450 teachers during the 2002-03 fiscal year. An additional appropriation of $300,000 will be used for candidate support programs each year.

        Mr. Taft also has proposed continuing the $2,500 yearly stipend for national board-certified teachers.

        Ohio ranks third in the nation, after North Carolina and Florida, in numbers of teachers with such certification. A record 331 Ohio teachers earned it this year, bringing the total to 924 with the certification. More than 100 of those teachers are in Cincinnati's public and private schools.

        Members of the governing board for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards - an independent, nonprofit agency that pushes for high teacher standards - came to Cincinnati Friday to honor Mr. Taft for his commitment to the certification.

        Kelly Weir, a Mason Middle School teacher who recently received the certification, said she appreciates the state recognizing teachers' efforts and helping to pay the certification fee.

        “We would not have had the opportunity to go through the process if not for the state,” Ms. Weir said.

        She and fellow national board-certified teacher Kari Schoonover, also of Mason Middle School, said the process is well worth the effort.

        “The merit of national board certification is going through the process,” Ms. Schoonover said. “Because the process is so rigorous, it forces you to examine all aspects of your teaching.”


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