If you’ve ever stepped into a master’s education evening class, you may very well find tired teachers forced to do the following:
A.) Draw and color the ideal teacher
B.) Look at pictures of beagles as a metaphor for life lessons
C.) Learn about the linguistic origins of the word “pants.”
D.) Listen to someone reading a “poe-em”
So no, education degrees are clearly do not measure a person’s ability to teach. All four of these things happened to me when I pursued a master’s degree in education. In fact, I agree with Katherine Merseth graduate dean of education at Harvard, who says that all graduate education programs, save 100, should be shut down. It’s a waste of time and a way for universities to make a cheap deal with school districts to make money. It’s a win-win situation. School districts look better because their teachers appear more highly qualified with these fancy MEd degrees. Universities make a quick buck off the taxpayers’ who help subsidized these degrees with the urging of school district. Teachers get a pay raise because that’s the only way you can get a higher salary short of a time machine.
Master’s degree do not reflect accountability. Student performance does. Simple as that. In any other career whether it’s a doctor or a CEO, results and numbers matter. But just like a doctor or a CEO, you can’t really learn anything until you actually do it. A doctor becomes better at surgery when he/she spends more time in the operating room. A teacher will become better when he/she spends more time in the classroom and working with other teachers. Yet, a doctor’s training is hard and demanding, but a teacher’s is anything but. There is no link between advanced courses and higher student achievement. None. Don’t even try to argue it.
Which brings me to Margaret Crocco, who just spent the entire post disliking Teach for America. Fair enough. But she just avoids the question, because she knows that Teach for America demands results, not degrees. Yes, it would be worthwhile revamping bachelor programs in education, so we can agree there. By the way, hasn’t anyone told her that corps members must have a master’s degree while they are teaching? It takes more than a smart talker to be a teacher–I agree with that. But it also takes more than a worthless master’s degree, too. It’s like trash on top of trash right now. It takes strong leaders, which TFA attracts. Unfortunately, teachers’ colleges and low salaries do not attract leaders, but it does attract a lot of C+ students. So, let’s try for tougher teacher education program and not beat up a highly successful teacher leadership program.
P.S. By the way, I have met and talked to many educators with PhDs who are totally illiterate and have no idea what they are doing. There are too many of these people.