Studies have shown that paying teachers for earning a masters’ degree is one of the worst ways to spend money in education. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said as much in a 2010 speech:
“Doing more with less will likely require reshaping teacher compensation to do more to develop, support and reward excellence and effectiveness, and less pay to people based on paper credentials […] Districts currently pay about $8 billion each year to teachers because they have master’s degrees, even though there is little evidence teachers with master’s degrees improve student achievement more than other teachers.”
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory agrees – that’s why he signed a landmark budget bill earlier this month that eliminates automatic pay increases for teachers who earn a master’s degree.
Before the bill was signed into law, North Carolina teachers received an average $5,148 bump in their salaries when they earned their master’s degrees, regardless of the quality of the post-secondary institution they received them from.
Granting automatic pay increases for master’s degrees was expensive for North Carolina. In fact, districts across the state spent a total $171 million increasing teachers’ salaries in response to the law.
North Carolina wasn’t the worst offender when it came to wasting money on this policy – not even close.
That’s a title Illinois can hold in high esteem.
Districts in the state increase pay an average of $11,190 for a teacher who earns his or her masters’ degree – the second-highest in the country. To make matters worse, Illinois devoted $941 million to this policy, with little to show for it.
It is time for Illinois to follow in North Carolina’s footsteps and end automatic pay increases for teachers who earn their master’s degrees. Spending taxpayers’ hard-earned money on policies that don’t improve student performance is wasteful and disrespectful to Illinois residents.