As Oklahoma legislators continue to explore the idea of merit pay for teachers, they would be wise to acknowledge and become more familiar with the State’s existing merit pay program. Oklahoma already participates in the National Board Certification Program which is a merit-based program that takes between one and three years to complete. The Board Certification, much like that accountants or doctors go through, calls for educators to complete a series of objective requirements, including a test. Once completed, the educators are entitled to a $5,000 stipend for a set period of time.
Approximately 5 percent of Oklahoma’s teachers currently meet the rigorous standards. The beauty of the existing program is that it is objective and any teacher can both apply and work hard to meet the standards, regardless of whether they have the brightest students or those from the most economically and socially challenged homes.
In addition, it doesn’t open legislators up to the hypocrisy of why establish a merit pay program for teachers when there appear to be a substantial number of legislators who can’t seem to pay their taxes on time. As said before, if the legislature is going to enact a new merit pay program for teachers, perhaps they ought to do the same for themselves.