Dr. Know-Nothing

A doctorate in education doesn’t mean a superintendent or principal is a competent or well-educated leader.

Credentialing programs for school leaders range from “inadequate to appalling,” and the coursework required is only marginally related to on-the-job skills, according to a report released Monday by the president of the Teachers College at Columbia University.

. . . (Education) degrees are cash cows for the colleges that offer them. While a university might take in $8,000 a year in tuition for one of these degrees, the program costs only about $6,000, according to the report.

. . . As for the principals and superintendents, they win the credential they need to help land their next job or pay increase. Knowing that the degrees are useful only as a symbol, they seek out the least demanding programs offered in the most convenient locations.

Teachers College President Arthur Levine calls for raising standards, closing low-quality programs and creating a master’s in educational administration that would represent genuine mastery of relevant knowledge; the PhD would be awarded only to future researchers.

Update: Lots of links on school leadership at Eduwonk.

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  1. Bluemount says:

    When principals can be fired, and not moved to a cushier job in the system there will be motivation to improve.

  2. Andy Freeman says:

    > the phD would be awarded only to future researchers.

    Why not reserve it for successful researchers?

  3. The same should be said about teachers in general. I went through the teacher-certification process a few years ago and was embarrassed with the ease of the process. I already had a 4-year degree, and was working on my masters during the process. However, my degree or my master’s work wasn’t required to become a teacher. One of the “key” steps in the process was the California Achievement Test (CAT). The questions on the CAT were so easy that failure should exclude one from ever becoming a teacher. However, at least 50% of the students in the testing room with me that day were taking the test for 2nd or 3rd time.

    And to think that I was going to get paid the same as these people for the rest of my career, regardless of our teaching ability.

    (I’m not suggesting rote knowledge is the only skill required to become a teacher. In fact, that is very far from the truth. Nonetheless, the CAT is so easy that I don’t believe it serves any purpose in screening out those who are not qualified to teach.)

  4. Steve LaBonne says:

    Why not reserve it for successful researchers? In real academic disciplines that is how it works.