Bruce Baker continues to be one of our most valuable academic scholars of educational madness.

In this post, he explores and explodes the claim by certain economists that teachers should not get a pay increase for anything except higher test scores. This is the only value that they ever add to a school.

On the basis of this absurd claim, states are now passing laws to deny teachers any salary increment for masters’ degrees. The theory, based on the work of aforesaid economists, is that additional education does not increase test scores (except in mathematics).

So, the teacher who wants to deepen their knowledge of science or history or obtain a degree in special education will see no salary increment. The not-so-subtle message from the state legislators is: Getting extra education is worth nothing to this state! Forget education, just produce higher test scores! At some point, maybe the legislators will just turn the schools over to test prep companies and forget about teachers altogether. If they find that high school students can produce higher test scores, they may stop requiring a college degree for future teachers.

Baker writes:

It may be entirely reasonable for local public school districts to provide additional compensation for teachers seeking graduate credentials that expand their possible involvement in district or school activities, such as achieving additional training to work with special needs populations, or additional content certifications, or for that matter additional training to engage in all of the new teacher observations [Tom] Kane and others now seem to think are necessary for getting rid of bad teachers (even though his own work on MET did not support his own conclusion in this regard). That is, you might want to have the salary differential available for the utility player.

It may also be an entirely reasonable approach for school districts to view providing additional compensation for furthering one’s education as a useful tool for retaining teachers – especially those who themselves show interest in expanding their own knowledge/learning.

In both this, and the previous case, the additional degrees or credentials obtained may actually have no direct relationship to the current primary responsibilities of the teacher. Does that mean they are entirely useless? That they should not be in any way associated with differentiated compensation not only until they are used, but until they are used in such a way that we can estimate that the additional credential has led to test score gains?

That’s just freakin’ asinine.

And this reductionist thinking really needs to stop.