Consider this a guest post from Heather Grafton with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators

PAGE Files Lawsuit in Fulton Superior Court
to Restore National Board Salary Supplements

 
 
The 75,000 member Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) announced today that it has filed a lawsuit aimed at preserving the salary supplements of more than 2,500 national board certified teachers across the state.
 
“We file this lawsuit reluctantly,” PAGE Executive Director Allene Magill said, “We worked very hard with legislators to prevent them from creating this problem during the last session. We told them that if they wanted to bring the program to an end that they would need to honor their commitment to those who had already earned the certification.”
 
The legislature completely eliminated the national board salary supplements for teachers who begin the certification process after March 1, 2009, but “grandfathered” teachers who had already earned the distinction.  However, for those teachers grandfathered in, they added the language “subject to appropriations” and then in the budget the General Assembly reduced the amount allocated for the salary supplement to ten percent of a beginning teacher’s salary rather than 10% of their state base salary.
 
PAGE has filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court   and is asking the court to restore the full salary supplement to the affected educators. ( The suit has been express mailed to the court and will be delivered Monday morning October 12)
 
“We believe that the amounts of salary national board teachers will be losing places an unduly harsh burden upon them,” said Magill. “While all educators shared in the cost of furlough days, this action singles out a relatively small group of the state’s most highly certified teachers and takes several thousand dollars of salary from each of them.”
 
As initially enacted, the law said that teachers who pay the $2,500 application fees and successfully undertake the two year requirements would receive an annual supplement of ten percent of salary for the ten year period of their certification.
 
“We want the state to honor its commitment to these educators,” Magill said. “We think it is very important that when the legislator announces a program that asks teachers to invest significant time and personal funds to earn a particular distinction that they keep their word.”
 
 
Background
As part of the A+ Education Reform Act enacted during a previous administration, the state passed legislation to encourage Georgia teachers to improve their skills by participating in National Board Certification, a rigorous process that generally takes one or two years to complete and requires an investment of $2,500. One of the key incentives for teachers to pursue this certification was the promise of a salary increase of 5% when the law was originally passed in 1996 and increased to 10% in 2000. In the years from 2000 to 2009, more than 2,500 teachers – some of the state’s most experienced and accomplished – obtained certification and saw their salaries rise by 10 percent, as promised.
Then came the current fiscal crisis, and suddenly, the Georgia General Assembly and governor decided that the state no longer had the funds to honor its obligation to board-certified teachers. During the 2009 legislative session, the General Assembly enacted legislation that ends the stipends for any future certified teachers and reduces the supplement amount to 10 percent of a beginning teacher’s pay, as opposed to 10 percent of the teacher’s full salary, as originally promised.   The 2009 legislation also makes payment of supplements to current national board-certified teachers dependent on legislative appropriation “if funds are available.”
 

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PAGE, the state’s largest organization for professional educators, is an independent association of more than 75,000 teachers, administrators and support personnel members providing professional learning to enhance competence and confidence, build leadership and increase student achievement.

Since we know that Steven Wang, President of the Hall County Chapter of GAE, reads this blog, maybe he will chime in with GAE’s response to this.

Thank goodness PAGE was willing to stand up on this.  Can’t believe I just said that.

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