College Guide


November 24, 2010 12:00 PM Teachers Colleges and Teacher Pay

By Daniel Luzer

Education secretary Arne Duncan wants to change the way America trains its teachers. According to an Associated Press article by Donna Gordon Blankenship in the Washington Post:

Just this week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the economy has given the nation an opportunity to make dramatic improvements in the productivity of its education system and to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Duncan told the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday that master’s degree bonuses are an example of spending money on something that doesn’t work.

Basically the financial troubles of many school districts may cause them to stop encouraging teachers to obtain master’s degrees, which don’t make them better teachers, though they do require school districts to pay them higher salaries. Almost half of all public school teachers have master’s degrees. School districts spend $8.6 billion in bonuses to teachers because of these degrees.

If this reform actually happens, which it probably won’t due to the strength of teachers unions and the general inertia of education reform, America’s colleges of education would cease to exist. There’s no reason for teachers to obtain master’s degrees if such degrees didn’t enable them to make more money.

Duncan would probably be okay with that. But don’t expect teachers colleges to go down without a fight.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Tollhouse Tim on November 29, 2010 12:22 PM:

    According to some commentators such as Carl Sagan, one of the problems with current American educational efforts lies with teachers being extremely well educated to teach, but with inadequate knowledge of what to teach. Assuming the correctness of the foregoing it would seem to me that the change should be not to increase pay scales for what could be called non-substantive advanced degrees but otherwise to leave things alone.