An Open Letter to North Carolina Legislators. . .

Like many states, North Carolina’s legislature is wrapped in one of the toughest budget sessions of the past 50 years. 

Along with raising taxes and cutting services in almost every department, the men and women who represent us have been pushed into the position where even education—-something that North Carolina has a long history of protecting—is going to suffer.

While I firmly believe that our government—like the families that it represents—should live within its means and understand that difficult decisions are par for the course in this legislative session, I’m heartbroken because our decision-makers are seriously considering capping the number of teachers who can pursue certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in North Carolina in an attempt to cut future costs in a state where teachers earn a 12% salary stipend for every year that they are certified.

Here’s my attempt to lend perspective to their decision:

July 21, 2009

Dear Legislators,

I'm writing to you today to encourage you to advocate against the current conversations in the legislature around capping the number of teachers that can pursue certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in our state. 

As both a teacher and a taxpayer, I'm passionate about this topic primarily because almost 12 full years ago, I can remember sitting in the office of my  principal breaking bad news to him.  I'd decided to leave teaching to pursue a career that paid a competitive wage compared to the professions chosen by my peers. 

During our conversation, my principal told me about a new program that was being funded and supported by the state of North Carolina called National Board Certification.  "With a bit of hard work," he said, "You can raise your salary by 12%." 

Given that teaching is all that I ever really wanted to do, I decided to give certification a whirl—and while the process was challenging, it was also incredibly rewarding because it offered a real opportunity to reflect on my practice and to be measured against the most rigorous standards of excellence in our profession.

After certifying as one of the first 20 teachers in Wake County, one of the first 100 teachers in North Carolina and one of the first 1,000 teachers in the nation, I found that my salary was incredibly competitive for ten months of work—-and I've stayed in the classroom ever since, renewing my certificate in 2007. 

That makes me a North Carolina education policy success story, doesn’t it? 

As a teacher, I hope that you'll continue to support National Board Certification—without capping the number of candidates that can apply for the process in our state—as a teacher retention tool.  There is no doubt that I would not continue to serve in North Carolina's classrooms had the fee support and salary stipend for Board Certification not been available to me. 

As a taxpayer, I hope that you'll continue to support National Board Certification because it is a responsible way to increase salaries in a state where the average teacher makes almost $5,000 less than the national average.  Unlike across the board increases for every teacher, National Board Certification ensures that our state's investments in increasing teacher salaries are targeted and earned.   

This is, in my opinion, the best of both worlds—and it mirrors your commitment to fiscal responsibility.

Please contact me directly if you have any questions,

Bill Ferriter
Sixth Grade Science and Social Studies
Salem Middle School
6150 Old Jenks Road
Apex, North Carolina 27513
Middle Childhood Generalist since 1997

4 comments

  1. Sarah

    I wish you had asked the legislature to get out of education, Bill. Just because these people went to school, they are no more qualified to create curriculum, standards, or much else related to educating young people than I am qualified to design medical criteria! You are a teacher’s teacher as well as a gifted educator of children. Maybe you should go into politics to improve NC standards!

  2. David Cohen

    At least the NC legislators seem to be taking a balanced approach to the problem. Here in California, we need a two-thirds vote to pass any new taxes, so even when a majority is willing to tolerate some new taxes to mitigate D E E P cuts in spending, there’s a hard-core minority that resists A N Y increased fees or taxes. The damage to the social safety net will literally shorten the lives of people who will be denied certain healthcare services they currently depend on and won’t be able to replace.

  3. Bob Heiny

    Nicely stated, Mr. Bill. Question: Is the proposal to cap the number of fees paid for incumbent or rising (new hires, first timers) teachers, or something else? I don’t know specifically what’s might be capped.

  4. dayle timmons

    I encourage you to continue to fight and to fight hard. We recently lost our fight in Florida and saw our stipend cut in half with almost no money to help new teachers pursue certification and no money for those of us that want to recertify. Unfortunately, I think we will see the short sighted results of this change in our future…