|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, October 22, 2002|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
Agreement Leads To Reinstatement Of Master Teacher Program
BOSTON - The Master Teacher Program, indefinitely suspended in June because of funding issues, was officially reinstated on Tuesday after the Legislature and Gov. Jane Swift agreed to allow state officials to spend down the endowment funding the program.
The program is funded using the annual interest on the state’s $70 million Teacher, Principal and Superintendent Quality Enhancement Endowment. Due to dropping interest rates resulting from the poor economy, the fund produced very low returns last year, prompting state officials to indefinitely suspend the program and postpone the bonus payments until next year.
But through the efforts of the Department of Education, the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, legislators have agreed to amend the rules of the endowment, enabling the Department to spend down $3.6 million of the principal each year to support the master teacher program and the Signing Bonus Program for new teachers.
“Our best teachers have an incredibly positive effect on the lives and learning of their students,” said Senate President Tom Birmingham. “We designed this program to ensure Master Teachers also have a positive effect on their colleagues. Preserving this effort during a recession is important to our commitment to quality schools, and to seeing our Commonwealth have a stronger economy and society.”
House Speaker Tom Finneran agreed.
“I am pleased that the Legislature is able to support the Massachusetts Master Teacher’s Program given the tough economic times before us,” he said. “It is important that we continue to support our educators and their efforts to ensure a quality education for all of our children.”
The program has allowed the state to pay a portion of the $2,300 tuition required for educators to become certified through the National Board Certification process. After achieving that status, those who agree to become “Master Teachers” and mentor new teachers are awarded an annual $5,000 bonus for up to 10 years.
There were 210 Master Teachers in the 2001-2002 school year. Of that group, 145 veteran Master Teachers already received a check for $3,000 in June, and now will receive the remaining $2,000 in November. The 65 new Master Teachers will receive the full $5,000 bonus in November.
All 210 were told in June, when the program was suspended, that their next bonus payment would be their last, and would not be coming until spring, 2003.
Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll said he is relieved an agreement could be reached to permit the program to continue.
“That we are able to reinstate this critical program even in today’s fiscal climate speaks volumes about its importance,” he said. “Our Master Teachers play an invaluable role in helping our first-year teachers adjust to the classroom. I am hopeful that this decision will allow us to get back on track to meeting our goal of eventually having 1,000 master teachers in our schools.”
For more information about this and other programs for teachers, look online at www.doe.mass.edu/educators/.