Suppose the company you worked for told you that if you went and got your MBA, you'd get a nice raise. Suppose that was the practice at your firm for years, and you signed a multi-year contract that spelled out the deal.
Suppose you OK'd the college and the program with your boss and your boss's boss. You went to night school and studied during your vacations and weekends and nights and you earned your degree. For the first year or two, you got the raise. Then a new CEO came in.
The CEO had heard of a few studies at a few other firms that showed that managers only got 'better' when their MBA was in a specific field - say, accounting. The studies didn't take into account where the managers earned their MBAs. The studies didn't measure the managers' performances; they measured the performances of their subordinates, whom the managers didn't pick to work for them and who couldn't be fired (it's an odd firm). In fact, only 10%-20% of the possible managers were studied anyway, and only when working in specific parts of the companies.
On the basis of this very flimsy evidence, the new CEO decides to terminate future raises for anyone who earned that MBA outside of accounting. Your MBA is in marketing, so it's is no good, even though it was before, and even though you took accounting as part of your program. All that work you did and all the money you spent to get that degree is now for naught.
You'd be pretty pissed off, right?
Well, this is exactly what Chris Christie wants to do to teachers. His draft bill eliminates the "masters bump", unless the Education Commissioner says the degree is one he likes, like in math (no matter that you may have studied math education in an elementary ed program). There is no grandfather clause: if Chris Cerf thinks your degree is useless, out goes your raise - even if your district had approved your program years ago.
This bill is based on very shallow research that was conducted using state-wide standardized tests - not necessarily in New Jersey, however. The National Council on Teacher Quality's meta-study is cited most often by corporate reformers; there was no attempt, however, by the NCTQ to assess the quality of the studies, the statewide tests the studies were based on, or the quality of the teachers' graduate programs.
(It's also worth pointing out that the studies that show a negative correlation between graduate study and student test scores are the oldest, dating back to 1985. Is it not possible graduate programs have changed over the years?)
Bruce Baker has noted that "reformers" haven't even questioned whether there may be a difference in quality between various graduate programs in education. He's also pointed out that only 10-20% of teachers could possibly be assessed on this criteria. Yet Christie is willing to throw out the thousands of hours and thousands of dollars that thousands of teachers put in to earn their degrees on the basis of "research" that won't even address these core issues.
That he would even propose such a thing is the height of disrespect. It is grossly unfair and dismissive of the work teachers have done to better their craft. It's also dismissive of the many excellent and challenging graduate programs in education around the county, and the professors who have worked hard to develop those programs.
It is completely demoralizing to think that all of the hard work I and my fellow teachers did in graduate school may now become a complete waste of our time...
Seven years of college down the drain...