September 20, 2014

House votes to suspend National Board pay raises for teachers

South Carolina teachers who get National Board certification would no longer receive pay raises under a budget close to passing the South Carolina House.

Rep. Kenny Bingham (R-Cayce)

The Republican-controlled House voted Wednesday to suspend for one year the $7,500 raises for teachers who receive the certification. Teachers already certified in previous years would be able to keep their higher salary until the time comes for recertification. Lawmakers voted 73-38 to table an amendment that would have reopened the process for newly-certified teachers. 

Rep. Kenny Bingham (R-Cayce) said the state Department of Education wanted to halt the raises as it instead examined the possibility of merit pay based on student performance.

“Do we want to reward teachers who have proven an academic standard? Or do we want to reward teachers that have gotten children to improve their academic standard?” Bingham asked on the House floor.

However, Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) said the extra pay is an incentive for teachers to get certified, “South Carolina remains number three in the nation for the total of National Board-certified teachers, which is something that we’ve been very proud of,” he said, “Why would we want to retreat on that?”

Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia)

Bingham said there is no evidence linking the number of National Board teachers with improvements in student performance. Smith said that’s because a large number of those teachers work with struggling schools.

A Department of Education spokesman said the state pays about $68 million per year to teachers who are National Board-certified.

Local school districts could still offer their own incentives for certified teachers under the proposal.

Three Democrats (Reps. Battle, Brantley, and Knight) voted with Republicans to table Smith’s amendment that would have re-opened the pay raises to new teachers. One Republican (Pinson) voted against.