Teacher stipend bill passes first test

by Todd Engdahl
Posted

The Colorado House Education Committee gave 13-0 approval March 7 to House Bill 12-1261, which would provide stipends to teachers who hold certifications from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

All board-certified teachers would receive annual stipends of $1,600; those who teach in low-performing schools would get an extra $3,200.

Sponsor Rep. Judy Solano, D-Thornton, argued that national certification is a "proven program" that reflects teacher quality and that teachers should be encouraged to earn certification.

Committee members of both parties seemed sympathetic, but they had some questions.

"To me, the issue is how do we pay for all of this," said Rep. Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, referring to the bill's estimated $1.7 million annual cost.

Solano noted the bill would make the stipends "subject to available appropriations," which means that the Legislature would decide every year whether it has the money to fund the program.

Some Republican committee members asked whether board-certified teachers already receive extra pay from their districts – some do – and whether it's appropriate to pay teachers for "inputs" (additional training) rather than "outputs" (improved student achievement).

"I looked at the bill with a lot of questions because I do not favor rewarding inputs rather than outputs," said Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock. But she said she would support the bill because of the quality of the board-certification program and because the reform group Stand for Children supports it.

A 2008 law created stipends for board-certified teachers, but the program hasn't been funded because of the state's budget woes. HB 12-1261 now goes to the House Appropriations Committee.

According to testimony at the meeting, about 97,000 teachers are board-certified nationwide, about 640 of them in Colorado. The state total is up 17 percent in the last year.