The Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington knows the fast way to stir up trouble. Their new report on teacher compensation is going to kick up a squawk with its comments that paying teachers more just because they have a master’s degree in education “makes little sense.”
The Center argues that the money spent on salary additions just because of advanced Ed school degrees isn’t well spent because having an education master’s degree bears, “no relation to student achievement.” The report says that while advanced degrees in math and science subjects, as opposed to education, do lead to higher student performance, about 90 percent of the master’s degrees held by teachers are in education programs, not core academic subjects.
One thing that jumps out of the statistics in the report is that few states have more at stake with this potential misapplication of school finances than Kentucky.
The Center’s report says an astonishing 71 percent of Kentucky’s teachers had a master’s degree as of the 2003-04 school year. Only two states, Connecticut and New York, had a higher rate. A majority of the states have rates less than 50 percent, and the US average rate is just 48 percent.
Thus, if paying more for a master’s degree is not cost effective, Kentucky stands to lose more than most states. We could be misdirecting a lot more money, proportionately, than almost every other state in the county.
The Center quotes each state’s price tag for this potential mistake. For Kentucky, it comes to a staggering $143,867,668, which ranks us 19th or so for high costs for non-productive degrees.
If our state’s leaders are really serious about education and getting our budget woes in order, then they need to take a look at the issues raised by the Center on Reinventing Public Education.