Sunday, May 5, 2013

A View from the Hill: Our First Alabama Hill Day

Our First Alabama Hill Day
On April 17, 2013 a delegation of Alabama’s National Board Certified teachers convened in Montgomery to meet with our legislators. The purpose of our visit was to:

  1. Lay the foundation for future relationships with our state representatives.
  2. Provide a face to the term NBCT.
  3. To help our representative understand the impact the NBCT’s make to the learning of Alabama students.
  4. To thank our representatives for the stipend and to urge its continuation.

Why We Believe a Hill Day is Important
We strongly believe that students taught by an NBCT receive a better education than those who are not taught by an NBCT.  NBCT’s continually reflect on their teaching practice, we see students as individuals not as classes, and we make adjustments to curriculum to support the learning needs of each individual student.  We positively impact the learning of students.

Numerous studies have shown that students of NBCT’s outperform their peers.  They score higher on state assessments, are more engaged in the learning process, have fewer discipline issues, and lower dropout rates.  The impact of an NBCT is particularly impactful to low income and minority students. 
Given the significance that NBCT’s make to student learning, we wanted to educate our state representatives. 

What We Did
Our delegation met with more than 20 of our state representatives.   Although most had heard the term NBCT, few understood the ramifications of having an NBCT leading the instruction of Alabama’s students.  We were especially interested in meeting with representatives who have few NBCT’s teaching in the representative’s district.  We offered to provide training and support for those seeking certification.

Additionally, we had the opportunity to meet with two of Governor Bentley’s aides Blaine Galliher and Emily Schultz.  This conversation allowed us to share our concern that the governor is not hearing the voice of NBCT’s.  As a direct result of our meeting, we now have a new follower on Twitter, Governor Bentley! 

We ended our day on the Hill speaking with our state superintendent of education Dr. Tommy Bice.  Dr. Bice is a strong supporter of NBCT’s and having an audience with him reaffirmed the importance of building relationships with those in Montgomery. 

What I Learned
To be honest, I was terrified at the idea of meeting with legislators.  I am an educator, not a politician.  I really have no desire to mingle in politics.  What I realized was that the voice of an NBCT is important.  These legislators make decisions that directly impact my classroom.  It is crucial that they know me, hear my voice, and support policies that positively impact my students.  Although this was my first Hill Day, it will not be my last. 

 ~Pamela Harman, Alabama NBCT Network President