Districts debate merits of advanced degrees for teachers

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Efforts to eliminate extra pay for teachers who earn advanced degrees are gaining momentum in a small but growing number of U.S. schools, stirring a national debate about how best to compensate quality educators and angering teachers who say the extra training is valuable.

More than half of the nation's teachers have master's degrees or higher, but the changing salary structure is giving pause to others considering the same path. Texas' two largest school districts, in Houston and Dallas, recently eliminated advanced degree pay going forward, following the example of North Carolina, where lawmakers last year started phasing it out. A few other states have made tweaks to reduce how much advanced degrees factor into pay.

"They're trying to say there's no value at all for a teacher going back to increase their knowledge," said Rena Honea, president of Alliance-AFT, which represents Dallas Independent School District employees. "Just by having the additional knowledge in their content area gives them more tools in their toolbox to be able to reach the different types of learners that are in the classroom."

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