NC ends tenure, master’s degree pay hike

North Carolina teachers won’t get a raise if they earn a master’s degree, under legislation signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. The bill also eliminates tenure and freezes pay for the fifth time in sixth years.

North Carolina is believed to be the first state to eliminate the automatic pay bump for earning an advanced degree.

North Carolina teachers are pursuing jobs in South Carolina, says union leader Charles Smith. “A six-year teacher is still getting paid the same as a first-year teacher.”

Enrollment is projected to grow rapidly in North Carolina with an added 800,000 students by 2030, notes Matthew Ladner on Jay Greene’s blog. Legislators have expanded school choice options for low- and moderate-income students and special-needs children, but per-pupil funding may not enough to “spur new private school supply,” writes Ladner.

Online learning disrupts teacher ed

Online learning is disrupting teacher education, writes Meredith Liu, a visiting fellow at Innosight Institute, on Education Next.

The four largest education schools, in terms of bachelor’s and postbachelor’s degrees granted in 2011, were online programs, including the University of Phoenix (5,976) and Walden University (4,878), reports the U.S. Education Department.

University of Southern California’s online master’s — [email protected] — uses interactive, web-based lectures and classes of 15 students.

  Similar to a webinar, students sign into a live session hosted by the professor. All class participants are visible to each other via individual video feeds and can signal to the professor when they want to speak. . . . Each class is archived in a video library for later review on the student’s computer or mobile device. The program facilitates learning outside of class through online study groups and a customized social-networking platform for students and faculty.

USC arranges for teacher candidates to complete 20 weeks of in-classroom training in their own communities. Student teachers can record and upload their lessons to USC faculty and classmates for feedback.

From 2008 to 2010, USC expanded from 100 to 2,200 degree candidates thanks to the online program, even [email protected] charges $40,000 for the 13-month program, the same as the on-campus price tag.

Western Governors University (WGU), a nonprofit, fully online university, offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Because WGU measures competency rather than credits, students can move quickly to a degree. The average student earns a bachelor’s degree in two and a half years.

The assessment for each competency uses multiple formats, including traditional testing, portfolio assignments, and observations. As many students have significant professional experience, they can skip some course content altogether and proceed directly to the assessment. For example, a career engineer switching into teaching does not need to suffer through introductory science and math courses to become a physics teacher.

Students complete their demonstration teaching near where they live.

WGU charges $2,890 for a six-month term during which students can take as many courses as they want.

WGU education graduates have “slightly higher rates of certification and employment than those attending comparison schools,” Liu writes. Still, it’s too soon to say whether online-trained teachers are as good as traditionally trained teachers.

By lowering opportunity costs — would-be teachers don’t have to quit their jobs and move to campus — online programs open up the profession to a wide range of people, notes Liu.

Transforming teacher ed

Relay Graduate School of Education, based at New York City’s Hunter College,  aims to “transform teacher education to fit the needs of urban schools,” writes June Kronholz in  Education Next.

The school trains novice teachers, usually without an education degree, in New York and New Jersey. Most teach in charter schools or are Teach for America teachers working in low-performing district-run public schools. All must show their students are making progress to earn their degrees.

During their second year in Relay’s two-year masters-degree program, elementary-school teachers are asked to show that their own students averaged a full year’s reading growth during the school year. They must also set a reading goal for each child, perhaps two years’ growth for a child who is three years behind, for example. Students can earn credit toward an honors degree if 80 percent of the children they teach meet their individual reading goals.

Elementary teachers must show students averaged 70 percent mastery in another subject, usually math, and middle-school teachers must show 70 percent mastery in their subject.

About 40 percent of Relay’s instruction is online. Teachers attend twice-monthly night classes, once-monthly Saturday classes, and two summer terms taught by master teachers and “charter school heavyweights.”

I logged onto an online lesson for a module titled Engaging Everybody, taught by Doug Lemov, managing director of Uncommon Schools. In the 3¾-hour lesson, Lemov lectured for three or four minutes on each of four techniques that he promotes to keep youngsters involved in class, techniques he labels “wait time,” “everybody writes,” “cold call,” and “call and response.” Each of Lemov’s minilectures was followed by a few pages of online reading from his book Teach Like a Champion, and an essay question or two that students answer online. Then came several short videos showing teachers using each technique in the classroom, with Lemov noting the teachers’ use of an apt pause or effective gesture.

. . . Next came practice scenarios—what do you do if only three children raise their hands to a question about angles?—online group exercises, and instructions to prepare a lesson plan that incorporates the techniques.

. . .  At the second Engaging Everybody evening class, Relay students are expected to present a 10-minute video of themselves using the techniques in their own classrooms.

Teachers pay about $4,500 for the two-year program with philanthropies covering about $13,000 and charter schools and federal grants funding the rest of the $35,000 cost.

A master’s in sandwich truck

After earning a graphic design degree, Zachary Lynd invested $30,000 in savings in a project he hopes will earn a master’s in visual design. It’s a sandwich truck, which is competing with hot dog trucks at the beach in Montauk, Long Island. Lynd “sells lobster rolls for $16, and a key lime tart and fruit salad for $5,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

It’s a “masters thesis roach coach,  writes Edububble. “Let’s just hope he can pay off the debt on the Airstream and the masters degree before someone starts handing out doctorates in making sandwiches.”

‘Stop getting so many degrees’

Inspired by The Onion, Amanda Krauss of Worst Professor Ever imagines a news story: Education Secretary to Nation’s Youth: ‘Stop Getting So Many Fucking Degrees’.

WASHINGTON – Despite pressing budget talks, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan . . . took a moment to remind the “I’m special” generation that they are “basically a bunch of punk-ass kids” who have been victimized by universities selling delusions of grandeur. He urged the nation’s youth to adopt a more realistic view of the world and accept their place as helots in the Spartan tradition, sacrificing themselves in service of the nation’s competent elite.

Duncan also had choice words about post-graduate degrees. “More education is not the answer,” he said sternly, suggesting that if the piece of paper was “so goddamn important,” today’s technology allows us to print degrees at home and save thousands of dollars to invest in real economic growth. While he admitted that those already holding advanced degrees were “kind of screwed” he noted that there was still time for them to put down their copies of Marx and roll up their sleeves, already.

“Tea Party members cheered the President’s rejection of godless book learning,” while tenured professors applauded the new approach, Krauss writes.

“We’ve been trying to get rid of the students for years,” confessed one professor. “I’m just glad someone said it, you know?”

Via Lee Skallerup of College Ready Writing, who responds to the New York Times’ story on the master’s degree as the new bachelor’s:  It’s a way to keep young people out of the labor market.

On a Facebook post, Krauss calls the master’s degree “the new fry cook certification.”


The entry-level master’s degree

The master’s degree is the new bachelor’s, writes Laura Pappano in the New York Times. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.  “Several years ago it became very clear to us that master’s education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions,” says Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools.

The professional science master’s, or P.S.M., which combines job-specific training with business skills, is growing rapidly.  “Humanities departments, once allergic to applied degrees, are recognizing that not everyone is ivory tower-bound and are drafting credentials for résumé boosting,” Pappano writes.

 “There is definitely some devaluing of the college degree going on,” says Eric A. Hanushek, an education economist at the Hoover Institution, and that gives the master’s extra signaling power. “We are going deeper into the pool of high school graduates for college attendance,” making a bachelor’s no longer an adequate screening measure of achievement for employers.

Colleges are turning out more graduates than the market can bear, and a master’s is essential for job seekers to stand out — that, or a diploma from an elite undergraduate college, says Richard K. Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

Not only are we developing “the overeducated American,” he says, but the cost is borne by the students getting those degrees. “The beneficiaries are the colleges and the employers,” he says. Employers get employees with more training (that they don’t pay for), and universities fill seats. In his own department, he says, a master’s in financial economics can be a “cash cow” because it draws on existing faculty (“we give them a little extra money to do an overload”) and they charge higher tuition than for undergraduate work. . . . He calls the proliferation of master’s degrees evidence of “credentialing gone amok.” He says, “In 20 years, you’ll need a Ph.D. to be a janitor.”

Students say the programs give them industry contacts. Employers say a master’s signals a higher level of commitment to the field.

The obligatory anecdote features a history graduate, working as a $7.25-an-hour waiter and living at home, who was rejected for tutoring and tour-guide jobs because he doesn’t have a master’s.  He’s going for a master’s in Jewish Studies with hopes of working for the CIA, though Pappano suggests “teaching, museums and fund-raising in the Jewish community” are more likely.  Or waiting tables, a job he started in high school. Many nonprofits are short on funds and laying off staff, not hiring.

Via Instapundit, who’s been blogging about the higher education bubble.

Master's pay bump is waste of money

Paying teachers more for a master’s degree wastes money, conclude researchers Marguerite Roza and Raegen Miller in Separation of Degrees by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Center for American Progress.

On average, master’s degrees in education bear no relation to student achievement. Master’s degrees in math and science have been linked to improved student achievement in those subjects, but 90 percent of teachers’ master’s degrees are in education programs — a notoriously unfocused and process-dominated course of study.

In New York, 78 percent of teachers hold master’s degrees, costing an extra $416 per student or $1.12 billion a year.

Teacher pay should be aligned to their ability to boost student achievement, Roza and Miller conclude.

On City Journal, Sol Stern has “seven achievable reforms” in the New York City teachers’ union contract.

. . . (Mayor) Bloomberg’s six-year school-spending binge . . .  fattened the education budget from $12.7 billion in 2003 to $21 billion this year — probably the greatest increase by a school district in the history of American education. The UFT was complicit in the spending, since it reaped a 43 percent across-the-board pay raise for teachers, an identical hike for the union’s executives and managers, and a commensurate increase in union dues.

One suggestion is to tear up the “irrational salary schedule” and replace it with “a formula that plausibly links pay raises to real academic accomplishment and classroom skills.”

What's a master's degree worth?

What’s a master’s degree worth? It depends on the subjects, say four experts on a New York Times blog.  A graduate with a master’s in engineering will be able to pay off the loans. A master’s in anthropology? Maybe not.

Liz Pulliam Weston, an MSN financial columnist, writes:

Graduate school has traditionally been a great place to wait out recessions while honing your skills for a better job. But sometimes, the payoff doesn’t justify the cost.

Community college significantly boosts earnings. Bachelor’s degrees also pay off, especially if earned at a lower-cost public university.  Medical and law degrees are expensive but lead to much higher earnings.

Not such a slam dunk: Master’s degrees.

In some fields, such as business or engineering, a graduate degree typically boosted income by more than enough to justify the cost. In others — the liberal arts and social sciences, in particular — master’s degrees didn’t appear to produce much if any earnings advantage.

Degree inflation makes the master’s more useful, writes Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus and professor of public services at George Washington University.

In a bad job market does it make sense for students to seek a safe harbor and earn a master’s degree? Absolutely: if they can afford it; if the debt from their previous academic work is not too great; if someone else is paying; if they seek to reinvent themselves. If, if …

The consensus view: Look before you borrow money.