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By Julian Peeples

A partnership between CTA and Stanford University is working to increase diversity among National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) and help develop new educator-leaders in California communities in what could become a model across the state and nation.

The CTA/National Board Resource Center at Stanford (NBRC) Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Cohort is entering its second
year of supporting BIPOC educators in deepening their teaching practice and positioning them to make change in public schools. Selected educators receive full funding for all certification support services offered by Stanford NBRC along with BIPOC cohort and individualized support. The program also provides support in accessing funding sources to cover the direct costs of
certification, including the California National Board Incentive Grant.

The first BIPOC cohort included 19 CTA educators, who recently completed their first year and are readying for next year, thanks to a grant from NEA that will fund another year of support.

Picture of Aaron Kelly

Aaron Kelly

“This experience has proven to be invaluable to my progress toward national board certification,” says Aaron Kelly, a member of Lamont Teachers Association in Kern County. “I work in a small rural farming community and there are not many resources or help toward academic or professional advancement. I started looking into National Board certification more than five years ago, but without support I just didn’t feel like I was ready, capable or even deserving of the certification.

“This BIPOC group has improved my confidence and provided support for this entire process. Without this group, I may not have ever gone through with this, which is a shame because this process has really allowed me to dive deeper into my own practices and helped me become a more proficient teacher merely by going through it.”
-Aaron Kelly, Lamont Teachers Association

The grant from NEA is also funding a second cohort starting later this year (visit nbrc.stanford.edu/candidates/cta-nbrc-bipoc-cohort for information). With two BIPOC cohorts running concurrently this year, the program is making historic strides toward diversifying the National Board Certified teaching ranks, which has been historically disproportionately white.

Picture of Cindy Alejandrez

Cindy Alejandrez

“The BIPOC Program is a result of work by CTA,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd, who discussed the program earlier this year along with Dr. Travis Bristol, UC Berkeley professor and president of theNational Board, at the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators. “The goal is to make it replicable and provide tangible outcomes for BIPOC educators.”

Prior to the program’s creation, a group of CTA BIPOC educators working toward national certification had been meeting informally to network and pro-vide support to each other. Last year’s California State Budget included $250 million for the National Board Incentive Program which pays up to $25,000 over five years to NBCT who agree to work in high-need schools. With BIPOC educators underrepresented among NBCT ranks, the CTA/Stanford partnership will ensure more BIPOC educators are able to take advantage of this significant investment and create an ongoing mechanism for identifying, recruiting and retaining BIPOC educator-leaders in the profession and in our union.

“My experience with the BIPOC cohort has been inspiring. These are the educators I wished I could work with on a daily basis,” says Cindy Alejandrez, a member of Chowchilla Elementary Teachers Association in Madera County. “During our meetings, I learn so much from our mentors as well. I am so thankful for this experience.”

Picture of teacher in elementary classroomWork is also underway to revise CTA’s version of the NEA Jump Start training for National Board Certification. CTA and Stanford NBRC are revising the curriculum, which is now called Navigating National Board, to create better opportunities for engagement and cultural relevance, and to align activities with the needs of California’s diverse students. Changes include incorporating implicit bias awareness and using actual pedagogy in practices.

Earlier this year, CTA also began hosting a virtual National Board Support Network, with facilitators and members of the BIPOC cohorts engaged as leaders of the network. The revised Navigating National Board curriculum will serve as the foundation of this support network for the 2022-23 school year. Current cohort members say the support has been invaluable.

“I am grateful to the entire group, CTA and Stanford NBRC for this opportunity,” says Kelly. “This has really had a tremendous impact on my self-efficacy as a teacher.

Here are additional resources on national certification.

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