The Teachers' Scrounge

News and comments from the world of public education. A middle school math teacher shared what he learned today.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Increase in Questionable Education Degrees

A Washington Post article discusses an increase in educators with higher degrees from "diploma mills."

It's such an interesting topic with soooooo many facets. Here are some of my quick takes:
  • The education profession does not reward merit, but overemphasizes calendar experience and degrees. This means degrees are overvalued to begin with. Further, Districts award stipends for advanced degrees. This means all degrees are equally valued. A Master's from Yale is paid the same bonus as a Master's from Walden University Online.
  • There is a big gap between the theory of education degrees and the practicality of the classroom. Degree applicants know this, and so they do not respect their own degree enough to put too much effort into them. Some programs emphasize mentorship and practicums, but those are rare.
  • Educators work hard at their jobs, and CANNOT put too much effort into their degrees.
  • Dissertations are often stat-driven. This is a weakness for many liberal arts majors. Resulting in comments like these:
    Other experts said the quality of education-related dissertations is often poor.

    "Oh, it just gets so bad," said Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and former president of the Teachers College at Columbia University. "People writing dissertations in which they ask, 'How do you feel about this? How do you feel about that?' They run statistical tests that you can't run. They pose questions that you can't answer with the research you've done."
  • My most important comment: You get out of a program whatever you put into it. Some programs encourage/guide/require their students to put more into a degree than other programs do. It is possible to get an outstanding, effective education from most any program.

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