Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Do K-12 Teachers Need Master's Degrees to Be Effective?

Kindergarten in session / Woodley Wonderworks CC BY 2.0

In Oregon, all newly licensed teachers (who already completed an accredited teacher education program, in addition to whatever subject matter course work might be required for teaching an academic subject in grades six through twelve) have six to nine years in which to earn a Master's degree (or complete a comparable quantity of graduate education) if they wish to retain their teaching license. This is true from Kindergarten through grade twelve. 

After reviewing a number of non-licensure graduate programs in education in the Portland, Oregon area, I began wondering about the following:

1. Are such requirements necessary? What is an elementary school teacher going to glean from a Master's in Ed program that will be worth the $18,000-40,000 cost (not to mention the opportunity cost of losing a year of income, if undertaken full-time) in terms of teaching efficacy and/or financial return?  If the accredited teacher-prep programs don't provide adequate preparation in pedagogy, why aren't those being scrutinized for revision instead, so that new teachers have the tools they need when they first enter the classroom? 

2. Are such requirements sensible in terms of national fiscal policy? With Direct Loan balance forgiveness available after 10 years of public service work post-degree, is the return on a teacher's Master's worth the cost to tax-payers?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Economy sucks? Don't worry about it - worry about THOSE people instead!

In late 1991 or early 1992, the GOP's politics of hate led me to become a Democrat.* Little has changed on that front. Krugman calls out US Rep Paul Ryan's race-baiting: http://nyti.ms/1qJUMFX

* After a few years of indecision, a parade of GOP US Senate hopefuls gleefully trying to outdo one another in gay-bashing during a primary debate in my college's chapel - including US Rep Sonny Bono, father of then-out-lesbian Chaz Bono - clinched my decision. Even though I was far from a gay rights activist - I was still "uncomfortable" with homosexuality at that time because of my partly-evangelical upbringing - I "knew" that demonizing people and fostering hatred and division to score political points was decidedly un-Godly behavior.

Happy St. Paddy's Day, You Defective Bastards!

This St. Paddy's Day, we 35 million Irish-Americans (Rep. Paul Ryan included) would do well to recall that we supposedly came from a "defective culture." http://nyti.ms/1e4BhCC

Heck, Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Catholic Americans of ANY ethnicity - we've all been slapped with this label at one time or another by "the protectors of the culture."  I suspect if you tallied us all up, we'd be the vast majority of Americans at this point.

Apparently the only culture worth celebrating in these folks' books is one where you hoard everything you can get your mitts on for yourself, and squelch the nagging conscience that tells you that greed is a deadly sin by assuring yourself that:

1. you're morally superior and deserve everything you've got,
2. poor people are morally corrupt and deserving of their lot, and
3. your material success is all God's will and evidence of His special love for, and approval of, you (nice appropriation of the historical notion of the Divine Right of Kings, there, by the way!)