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EDUCATION: Editorial misses point on master’s pay

Letter by James M. Sawatzki, Tacoma on Nov. 29, 2010 at 9:55 am with 2 Comments »
November 29, 2010 1:23 pm

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

Like a poor medical student, The News Tribune identifies a symptom in isolation and leaps to the wrong diagnosis. The real culprit gets passing mention in the article: “… something like 90 percent of teachers’ master’s degrees are earned in education courses, which are often lacking in focus and rigor.”

In fact, master’s degree compensation in Washington state was never about improving instructional quality. Rather, its purpose was to increase teacher pay – via “objective” criteria – and in so doing, increase teacher retention and attract talented individuals to the field.

Remember, at one point, the state Legislature, in its micromanaging wisdom, mandated that all public school teachers obtain a master’s degree, before it rescinded that decree in face of insurmountable logistical and financial considerations.

If one wishes to reduce government waste, target instead for elimination all public colleges of education which perpetuate a public fraud by pretending that education is in some shape or form a science. It is not; it is pure art.

All that ought to be necessary for employment as a teacher is a bachelor of arts or science appropriate to the content area posted, suitable communication skills, and a personality appropriate to the grade level and subject matter. Most teachers would be better prepared with a degree in theater arts than one in education.

Leave alone my just compensation achieved according to incentives approved by law and supplemented with 26 years of dedicated public service.

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  1. bobcat1a says:

    As a teacher, I am in total agreement. Subject knowledge and the right personality are what makes a good teacher, not education classes. My experience has been that most education professors and public school administrators are former teachers who didn’t really like teaching kids.

  2. Wow……As someone who is an artist/educator I am stunned by the ignorance of this letter and bobcat’s post.

    Pedagogy may not be a science but art isn’t just based upon inspiration and native talent. Art demands training in technique, theory and craft.

    While the definition of pedagogy as the art and science of teaching is not accurate, effective teaching methodologies exist. Both in education and the arts, craft can, and should, be taught. Just as training in psychological theories will not, by itself, make someone a brilliant therapist but a licensed psychologist must be trained in the theories and methodologies, a teacher must receive training in pedagogy.

    Teaching someone the craft of teaching will never make a teacher with no talent for teaching a good teacher but it will provide those with talent in the field a foundation from which to approach the “art”.

    This is not to say that what passes for training in Education is exemplary. I have taught arts pedagogy to emerging educators in many different colleges and have found that, all too often, the Education departments tend to offer a very rigid, doctrinaire approach that must be followed rather than providing future teachers with a eclectic background in various proven pedagogical approaches from which they may develop their own approach best suited to their strengths and personalities as well as utilizing methods that are best suited to the needs of their individual students.

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