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EDUCATION: Keep pay bump for teachers with master’s degree

Letter by Shirley A. Case, University Place on Nov. 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm with 51 Comments »
November 26, 2010 2:04 pm

Re: “Master’s bump: $330 million a year for nothing” (editorial, 11-26).

Don’t take away the financial incentive for a teacher who is willing to invest time, energy and money into completing a master’s degree in education.

Earning that degree is the beginning of a professional journey toward becoming a better teacher. A master’s program helps teachers understand the importance of using research in their instructional practice. Successful teachers pair effective research-based instructional strategies with content knowledge to increase student learning.

Through ongoing staff development opportunities, teachers with advanced degrees can become instructional leaders in their schools and districts by modeling a research-based, collaborative approach to teaching. If teachers with advanced degrees in math and science are flocking to private businesses, then keep them in education by paying them to take a leadership role in sharing their expertise with other teachers.

Leave a comment Comments → 51
  1. redneckbuck says:

    A masters degree has nothing to do with quality education.

  2. aislander says:

    C’mon, redneckbuck; haven’t you seen how MUCH education has improved in America since educators have stressed education about educating, rather than recruiting people who have been successful in the fields in question? Besides, the European guild system requires that there be as many hurdles to entry as possible to, you know, keep out the riffraff…

    Principals who call themselves “doctor” make me laugh my butt off, by the way. Most people with REAL Ph.D.s don’t call themselves that…

    Finally, have you noticed that the increase in the decline in education is coincident with the advent of DOE? I know coincidence doesn’t prove causation, but I’m just sayin’…

  3. redneckbuck says:

    The NEA is a total waste of money.

  4. Red, I agree with your opinion of master degrees. I much prefer teachers who expert in their content area and use put practical teacher skills. And it was not all that long ago that one only needed two years of college to become a certified teacher.

    Islander – almost jumped on you. Your satire was almost too subtle. In Japan very few classroom teaches hold anything beyond a Bachelor’s degree.

  5. bobcat1a says:

    So, Mr. Buck, I suppose you think of yourself as overpaid?

  6. redneckbuck says:

    I work real hard at what I do. I am certified in multiple areas: math, science, Cte. I have owned businesses. I feel like I bring a unique perspective to teaching. Fine cut my pay, i will figure it out.

  7. Why does someone need a masters degree in math to teach a 2nd grader how to multiply?

  8. letsworkitout says:

    As a teacher myself I don’t believe the current system for pay is any good. To me, if you have a Masters’ degree and get a raise you have essentially bought yourself a pay raise. Yes, you have to pay for the Masters’ degree (someone on a thread somewhere wondered if we have to pay for it, yes we do). A different model that is based on what you know and apply in the classroom is a better system. Much like National Board Certified teachers. To be certified you are are tested on the content areas in a timed test that isn’t easy. You are given 30 minutes to respond to a prompt on the computer (in a secure location with cameras on you no less), once finished you go to the next one. This continues for 6 prompts. This is a one day test. Besides the content tests there are 4 portfolio sections to send in. The portfolio’s contain your evidence of pedagogy, understanding of students, communication with parents (effective communication), your work with the students (samples, video taped lessons with reflection), and what you do beyond the exceptional to further your professional development. It has to include what you do to involve the community, your colleagues, and parents. This process takes months, and sometimes years. This is more valuable than a Masters because you have to show the application and knowledge.

  9. Red, I may not agree with some of your politics, but I wish there were more teachers of your skill level in the public school system.

  10. JungleBoy says:

    ronniew- the master’s degree isn’t needed to teach a 2nd grader how to multiply and divide, it’s needed so that the teacher can figure out the best week to go on strike.

  11. shirleycase says:

    Reading these comments with all of the grammatical errors and generalizations has opened my eyes to the reasons why teachers have such a difficult job.

  12. JungleBoy says:

    shirley – Yes, your job is difficult – when you’re actually teaching. Compared to other countries, our students (and teachers) spend significantly less time in the classroom. Personally, I’d love to have 3 months off a year, along with holidays etc… And don’t give me the line that you need the time to prepare lesson plans. Usually, after a few years teaching, the lesson plans are already formulated and are easily modified for the upcoming year.

  13. firemannotfirefighter says:

    Why don’t teachers show us where having a Masters Degree actually makes them better teachers? No theories, no anomalies, show me good hard FACTS (And the WEA and NEA aren’t fact based organizations). They can’t because there is NO PROOF!

    Former President George W. Bush had a Masters Degree (from Yale no less). I guess that makes him a better business man and more educated huh? Wanna bet the NEA and WEA would disagree with that?

  14. shirleycase says:


    Sorry, but you have no clue what it is like to be a teacher. You are looking from the outside in and referring to myths as truths.

  15. aislander – I have learned that those of my colleagues who insist upon being referred to in the titular tend to be the least effective in the classroom (and the least collegial in committees).

  16. Frankly, if we truly valued education, a Master’s degree would be the minimum requirement to get into the classroom.

  17. We don’t have any masters degrees floating around our house, just a couple of bachelors degrees. Nevertheless, my 5-yr old can work with multiplication and simple fractions. If we, having no experience whatsoever in the field of education, can teach a 5-yr old these concepts , why can’t professional 3rd grade teachers armed with specific education and training teach the 8-yr olds they have in their classrooms for 6 hours a day enough to pass the WASL?

  18. bB — Frankly, if we truly valued education we would pay our teachers enough to attract the cream of the crop and allow them to compete for jobs. If we truly valued education we would focus our time and effort on those who want to be educated rather than wasting precious resources begging and pleading witkids to show up so we can give them a worthless token diploma.

  19. “witkids” — oops, supposed to be with kids.

  20. aislander says:

    Merit pay for good teachers and vouchers for motivated students…

  21. aislander — I think the reason the vouchers will never happen is that if you provide a means for all the decent students to leave, you’re left with… well, not much.

    Of course, if only the bottom of the barrel is left there wouldn’t be any achievement gap issues, would there? Since they get can’t everybody to pass I suspect they are trying to get everybody to fail so it’s all fair.

  22. aislander says:

    ronniew: How about a two-track system (or three–there should be a market for the bottom-tier “graduates” if we can control the border)?

  23. aislander — I think we had that, up until the 60’s. There were kids on the college-bound track and kids on the home ec/voc tech track. Problem was that kids were being pigeon-holed into one track or another based on too many factors other than academic prowess. Had to scrap the whole system and put them ALL on the college-bound track so as not to offend anyone.

    It seems to me that if something like 35% of the kids never even finish high school we out to make sure they take some home ec courses before they drop out. Cooking is an essential life skill that transcends all economic classes.

  24. aislander says:

    It IS a conundrum. How can we even think about reestablishing our manufacturing base (with native-born employees, anyway), if everyone is training to be a manager, or, worse, believes that making something or pursuing profit is vulgar?

  25. aislander says:

    That last point is especially irritating to me, and is, I believe a particularly noisome relic of the 1960s. It was and is an upper-class conceit that it is vulgar to be “grasping,” to pursue wealth, and that is one thing that their kids, the radicals and poseurs of the Sixties did not reject. It would be bad enough if only those people rejected the pursuit of profit, but they passed that ethos to others who didn’t have the financial means to turn their noses up at that pursuit, and have been damaged immeasurably, as has the nation…

  26. Ronc,

    There is a reason for people to have Master’s and PHD – to get more pay for doing the same work we lowly bachelors do.

    In Japan, unlike here, school teachers are paid on a par with Engineers.

    Two to the none academic factors were race and gender.

  27. Do you mean, for example, how everybody who thinks health care is a basic right and should be free doesn’t have any idea how much work it takes to become a doctor? That they think doctors are rich and greedy for turning away Medicare patients, but I don’t see any of them going through medical school with the intent of providing free service to all?

  28. xring — I can’t even imagine how frustrating it must have been for a smart kid to be stuck in shop or sewing classes because of race or gender. I certainly don’t want to get back there. It can’t be much better for a kid with no interest in college whatsoever to have to take a 2nd year of French when he knows he’ll be painting cars for a living. It would be nice if we could effectively test them, then pigeon-hole them.

    And they should ALL be required to take at least a full year of cooking. Do you think it’s a coincidence that none of these fat kids knows how to cook?

  29. Ronn,
    You cooking comment is made me chuckle, but is oh so true. Remembers that one of the demands made by the student activists that took over colleges in the ‘60s was for more meaningful or relevant classes?

    I would also like to see PE classes focused towards personal, long term fitness, rather than trying to teach kids to play a few games that most will never play again.

  30. aislander – I have worked in two “right to work states” that had no scheduled increases in pay except through promotion or merit pay.

    There never was any merit pay made available as the state legislatures always decided that it wasn’t a high priority during the funding cycle.

    I have found that the quality of the faculty was lower in these non-union situations than the quality of my colleagues in state institutions that had regular step increases provided through negotiations with their union. In the non-union positions there is a very high rate of turnover of highly qualified faculty who can win positions with better compensation packages.

    The best faculty I have worked with is at a small, private liberal arts college. It was also the institution that offered the best compensation package and, therefore, the faculty never felt the need to create a union.

  31. xring – consistently, the countries that do the best in teaching their children pay the highest salaries to their teachers.

    Also, in Japan and other high performing countries, the teacher is treated with very high respect and the parents are very involved in the education of their children.

  32. xring — What is more relevant or meaningful than cooking and PE? Obviously, the kids are SUPPOSED to be learning that from their parents at home, but they aren’t. If we are feeding kids because they aren’t getting breakfast at home and we are providing counseling because kids’ emotional needs aren’t being met at home why aren’t we teaching more important life skills to our certain drop-outs, like cooking, PE and health, and financial skills?

    I think all of those things should be taught at home, but I’m a realist, not an idealist.

  33. Ronn – should be but all to often arn’t because parents are ‘too busy’ or may not have the skill in the first place.

  34. spotted1 says:

    ronniew…if what you say is accurate…you are the parent that teachers want for their students. Someone who actually teaches the child at home so that they are prepared for education. I will disagree with your cooking example on the level that rarely do kids cook. If anything it either comes from a box or something instant and microwaved. Cooking is becoming a lost art.

    Teachers in Japan. They are paid on seniority and respected for their length in the field. The teachers are respected and revered. Students know that they have to test, starting at 5th grade, and are then tracked into higher or lower schools based on their success on that test. And the tests are repeated in later years. Universities are competitive and only take the top kids from the top high schools. They DO NOT take students who did not do so well on tests and went into lower level schools.

    Teachers teach a national curriculum. They are told the books they can use from a national committee. They are told the standards to teach. They teach far less curriculum than the United States. They teach it at a deeper level of understanding as well.

    Teachers their are respected. The administrators are respected. The parents call the school and the administrator decides if they are sick enough to stay home. The child is expected to learn and their success is reflected on the parents.

    That being said. Japan also has the highest teenage suicide rate in the world.

  35. firemannotfirefighter says:

    The other difference between Japan Schools and the US schools, japan doesn’t have the WEA and NEA obstructing positive education reforms.

  36. spotted1 — That’s exactly why kids NEED to learn to cook. If they can’t cook they end up eating something from a box or something they can zap in the microwave. That’s why they are all fat!. What’s worse is that very few of them seem to understand that being fat is extremely unhealthy. Now, more than ever, kids need a cooking class where they can learn how to prepare healthy foods.

  37. spotted1 says:

    ronniew…kids don’t need to learn how to cook.

    Their parents do. Kids only follow what their parents teach them.

    Since schools removed home economics from the schools, no one is teaching these kids. Parents don’t know and don’t care. Shoot, food banks are no longer asking for food that can be prepared rather food that is all ready prepared for their “customers”. That says a lot.

    That being said, I learned fractions from a wonderful mother who taught me how to cook…so I get what you are saying.

    But, it seems cheaper and easier to go get fast food than actually cook for most…

  38. spotted1 says:

    fireman…Japan does not have a teacher union. They have a system based on seniority and length of time in job, not performance. Which can be equally as challenging for them. They respect their senior teachers and they pay them better.

    But the big advantage that teachers in Japan have over Americans…their parents value education and see it as an opportunity for something better in life. Not as free daycare.

  39. One thing that has been overlooked is how entry into degree-granting colleges was more competitive in the past because getting a diploma from high school actually was an accomplishment.

    Now a bachelors degree is equivalent to what a high school diploma used to be. Having been in higher education for nearly a generation I see how the level of my students has dropped – they aren’t as smart, aren’t as prepared, and aren’t as motivated to learn.

  40. sumner402 says:

    japan doesn’t have the WEA and NEA obstructing positive education reforms.

    Can you cite examples or are you just parroting the unions are evil BS from fox and beck?
    you do know that the unions do not set policy or the curriculum….don’t you?
    I mean it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that, if you take like 2 seconds to THINK, you would know it.

  41. firemannotfirefighter says:


    Sure I have specific examples… Look at ANY STRIKE BY TEACHERS IN WASHINGTON (all illegal)! Look at the opposition to Charter Schools. Look at the Opposition to standardized testing. Look at the Opposition to Performance pay or reviews. Hell, Look at how many teachers in the State of Washington have been fired for incompetence. Then compare those numbers to other professions.

    I realize that a meaningful argument is hard for someone like you to follow. My arguments have been lauded by the LEFT and Right. You trying to bring the argument down by invoking Fox and Beck only shows your general ignorance to the issues at hand and an inability to comprehend ANY point of view other than your own.

    Tell you what, Go see Waiting for Superman (produced by the people that did Inconvenient Truth. Are they controlled by Fox and Beck too?). Afterward, read the MSNBC series on education. Then follow that up by reading President Obama’s Race to The Top! Wanna bet that my arguments are outlined in all of those areas? Wanna bet my beliefs on education are closer to the current sitting President’s?

    Your comments that the Union doesn’t and shouldn’t share any level of responsibility for the state of our education system is asinine. Your comments are indicative of what is wrong with our education system. Pay no attention to the Man behind the curtain!

    The WEA and their local chapters DO have a say in curriculum. Through Political action and through influence at a state and national level. Go back to your Union meeting and drink some more Kool-Aide.

  42. spotted1 — I think kids DO need to learn to cook at school because their parents aren’t teaching them at home. Why should we care if someone else’s kid can cook or not? Because we’re all going to get stuck paying the health care bills from the obesity epidemic. People think the major downfall of being fat is lower self esteem, but we will see over the coming years that the real effect is poor health.

    We’ve seen our curriculum evolve as our technological needs change. I think it should evolve to suit our other needs as well.

  43. sumner402 says:

    Sure I have specific examples

    Again I have to ask if you really do have any specific examples, what you ‘listed’ is proving my assertion that you are in fact spewing the glen beck ‘unions are evil’ nonsense. How is a strike ‘blocking reform? How is the evil scary union blocking standardized testing? (they can’t and haven’t) How is a union doing it’s job and protecting it’s members “blocking reform’? You see you have yet to provide any meaningful examples. which goes to illustrate YOUR, how did you put it “shows your general ignorance to the issues” and your “inability to comprehend ANY point of view other than your own”.

    Your personal attacks are further proof you have little actual fact to stand on and are relying heavily on the far right rhetoric. Your posts are 90% personal attacks and 10% far right fox beck gibberish.
    But unlike your fellow low road travelers you at least tried to back up your claims.

    Now would like to address my question in a real and adult manner or just continue with your right wing rhetoric?

  44. sumner402 says:

    Your comments that the Union doesn’t and shouldn’t share any level of responsibility for the state of our education system is asinine.

    I have never made any comment of the kind.
    Why must you make things up to attack others with?
    why must you swallow the idea that the unions are to blame for everything when clearly they aren’t you yourself can not provide a single shred of evidence to back up your claim?

  45. spotted1 says:

    Sumner…since you are want to misquote people, that is fine, as I never wrote the statement you decided to “quote”. See fireman’s comments as far as examples of the WEA and NEA.

    For Japan, their is no teacher’s union. Not sure how Glenn Beck or Fox News would quote that, or even want to. But if you say so….

    From my experience working with educators in Japan, they have no union. They are hired in a school then tend to remain their for their career. They are respected for longevity and paid for their experience. They teach a national curriculum rather than a state-by-state conglomeration of material loosely based on some national standard as we have. The government tells them what books they can use to teach and they have very little say in their curriculum topics. The test is a national test. Everybody takes it. If you pass with high scores, you move to better schools, if you pass with low scores, they move to lower level schools.

    The downside of the Japanese system is the forced tracking of students and the high suicide rate of teens due to failure on these tests. But anyone who has access to a computer could look most of this material up if they really wanted to.

  46. redneck – perhaps you could have individually negotiated your high salary but…..since your wages were directly related to the levels set in negotiation with WEA, it is completely speculative of you to assume that the union is “completely worthless” and that you have not directly benefited from the union.

  47. spotted1 says:

    ronniew….thank you for the belated thought…I agree that some people simply will argue for their own sake..

  48. In Japan the Government, Business, and Labor work together for the good of the Nation and People.

  49. sumner402 says:

    spotted1 says:
    Sumner…since you are want to misquote people, that is fine, as I never wrote the statement you decided to “quote”.

    I didn’t quote you spotted, I quoted fireman.
    Maybe you should log out of one sock puppet name before posting and try READING for a change.

  50. letsworkitout says:

    lol, this thread is getting smaller and smaller.

  51. aislander says:

    A LOT of threads are shrinking, lets. The responses disappear while the provocations remain…

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