Classroom teachers in public schools have had no representative on the CNMI State Board of Education for six years now. To remedy this, many teachers now want the Teacher of the Year awardee to be appointed as their representative on the board.
This was the result of a survey conducted by the Public School System among teachers, a majority of whom supported the proposal to have the TOY awardee be their board representative.
This year's CNMI Teacher of the Year is Peter Loken of Garapan Elementary School.
Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D., told Saipan Tribune that the survey was done in December and the final result came out in February.
Under the law, public school teachers are supposed to have one non-voting representative on the Board of Education.
The governor is the appointing authority for the honorary members of the education board. These positions include public schools teachers' representative, private school teachers' representative, and students' representative. The five other voting members of the BOE are elected.
“Our teachers would like to see that the selection [for the teachers' representative on BOE] be made out from the pool of TOYs [teacher of the year nominees]. For the alternate member, they recommended the inclusion of the PSS instructor of the year,” said Sablan, adding that these recommendations will be forwarded to Gov. Eloy S. Inos for his consideration.
Sablan said the appointment of a PSS teachers' representative on the BOE is “long overdue.” As a result of this vacancy, the commissioner consults with teachers through an advisory panel that she created.
Despite the existence of this panel, Sablan believes that there's a need for all parties to be formally represented on the board.
“Our teachers have spoken on the issue.and we appreciate it if the governor can make the appointment because we really need a teachers' rep [on] the education board,” added Sablan.
According to BOE chair Herman T. Guerrero, past administration and legislatures were non-responsive on the requests of PSS and the board to fill important vacancies on the board. He cited several letters sent to both the Executive Branch and the Legislature urging appointment to these positions. In 2011, BOE even provided the Legislature “starting points” for the selection of a teachers' representative.
The last teachers' representative was Ambrose Bennett, whose term expired in January 2008. Nobody has succeeded him since then due to constitutionality issues raised in the selection process.
Guerrero said the board made numerous attempts to engage lawmakers in formulating policy so that a teacher can be placed on the position, to no avail.
Among past recommendations were a teacher organization election, the automatic appointment of the president of the teacher organization, and a general election among all teachers.
Saipan Tribune learned that since Article 15 Section 1(c) of the Constitution was amended in 2009, the process of establishing the selection process for the teachers' representative became the responsibility of the Legislature.