News: Quick Takes

Bipartisan bill would restore master’s pay for teachers

A new bipartisan bill would restore master’s degree and doctoral pay for some public school teachers in the state.

In 2013, lawmakers cut that extra pay, but Senate Bill 28 would restore master’s pay to teachers who obtain a degree in the subject they’re teaching. Introduced by Sens. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, and Rick Horner, R-Wilson, the bill has support from lawmakers of both parties. Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake, announced Feb. 7 he would join as a co-sponsor of S.B. 28.

“This is a common-sense bill; and it should get bipartisan support,” Chaudhuri tweeted.

The bill has somewhat pleased the N.C. Association of Educators, the largest teacher organization in the state.

“This would be huge if we could get (master’s pay) placed back in,” NCAE President Mark Jewell told WRAL. “It should never have been taken out in the first place.”

Jewell said lawmakers should fully restore the pay supplement for master’s degree to 2013 levels. Previously, teachers with master’s degrees earned a 10 percent pay bump, but Republican lawmakers did away with the benefit in 2013. The thinking was the state should reward performance rather than credentials.

The bill has some stipulations regarding who gets an increase. Teachers and instructional support personnel who get an advanced degree in school administration won’t be paid on the “M” salary schedule or earn a salary supplement for academic preparation.

S.B. 28 would grandfather teachers and instructional support personnel who were paid on that salary schedule or received the salary supplement before the 2014-15 school year. Teachers who completed at least one course before Aug. 1, 2013, and then later got their master’s degree also were grandfathered.

The proponents of restoring master’s pay for teachers say the research points to improved teacher effectiveness and student performance, but Terry Stoops, vice president of Research and director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation, isn’t convinced.

“Decades of empirical research has found that master’s degrees in education do not improve teacher effectiveness or student achievement,” Stoops said. “If our goal is to increase student learning through investments in teachers, pouring money into master’s degree pay is not the way to do it.”

Instead, Stoops said, the state should reward teachers for what they do in the classroom and not for the credentials they earn outside.

“While some research supports awarding supplements for advanced degrees in the subject area, it would be a mistake to restore master’s degree supplemental pay for all teachers, as public school advocacy organizations have proposed,” Stoops said.