It seems that charter school teachers need a special sort of post-graduate degree. The charters respect the credential enough to want their teachers to have one, but they “can’t wait” for the time it takes to get one from a traditional school of education. Besides, the traditional programs waste time on stuff like sociology and cognitive development, and don’t give enough time to teaching test prep.
In New York City alone, there are now two programs to churn out masters’ degrees for charter teachers. One, called Relay, started at Hunter College when David Steiner was dean (Steiner briefly served as state commissioner of education after starting the program at Hunter for KIPP and other charters). The other is a collaboration between Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies (formerly known as Harlem Success Academies) and Touro College in Manhattan. Both were created specifically for charter teachers and focus more on classroom technique than on theory, history, the foundations of education, cognitive psychology, research, etc. that are typically part of a masters or doctorate in education.
Touro College, Moskowitz’s partner, has a checkered history. Recently the college was criticized for paying its president nearly $5 million a year, more than the presidents of Harvard or Columbia. Five years ago, the college was accused of selling diplomas, taking money to change grades, and being a diploma mill; some admissions officials were indicted. One college official went to jail for accepting bribes.
Whatever. As online programs proliferate, as authorities allow almost anyone with a shingle to manufacture degrees, we may reasonably expect two results: Diplomas will com to mean nothing at all, since they are so easily obtained from ersatz entities; or discerning employers and institutions will recognize that some diplomas mean nothing at all.