Joining Harrison and Dougco, North Carolina Dumps Wasteful Masters Bumps

Colorado’s educator pay innovators — namely, Harrison and Douglas County — are further vindicated by commonsense actions from state leaders in North Carolina. Two years ago I brought readers’ attention to the massive blowout that is the research showing masters degrees for teachers don’t help students learn.

Today, as EAG News reports, the Tarheel State has jumped on board with the winning team. After April 2014, an advanced degree for a North Carolina teacher no longer will result in an automatic pay raise. In other words, it’s the end of the “masters bump.” What will happen? Look further north to another state that’s adopted this approach:

Without those financial incentives, many teachers will simply stop pursuing advanced degrees, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. That means state universities will have to entice potential teacher-students by offering programs that actually help them become more effective in the classroom, and thus eligible for merit-based raises.

That’s already happening in Wisconsin, where struggling graduate schools of education are refining their course offerings and ramping up their marketing efforts, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

If it’s not working to help students, and it’s not, then it’s definitely time to try something different. Worse than Colorado — where we at least have a handful of school districts pioneering true performance-based and/or market-based pay — are, as EAG News notes, “eight states that currently require educators to hold an advanced degree as a condition of receiving their full professional teaching license” and “16 states that require extra pay for teachers with an advanced degree.”

But rather than focus on who we’re not quite as bad as, let’s once again become a reform leader! It helps kids by saving money to spend more wisely. In Colorado, the dollars spent on masters bumps makes up nearly 2 percent of total statewide K-12 operating budgets. We certainly can make better use of the resources we have, and the lead established by Wisconsin and North Carolina provides a prime example.