DCPS places value of $0/year on graduate education

In 2011, Duval County stopped paying teachers higher salaries for having “advanced degrees” (Master’s/Specialist/Doctorate).

To my knowledge, we are one of a tiny handful of school districts in the nation that does not do so. Instead, DCPS pays a modest one-time supplement. After that first-year payment, DCPS places no value on the education level of its teachers.

This means a History teacher who majored in English and got certified by cramming for a subject area exam is paid the same as a bona fide historian with a Ph.D. This is not to say the former can’t eventually become a good History teacher, but the fact we value these two the same in DCPS speaks volumes.

DCPS and the teacher’s union (DTU) both inaccurately blame State Law SB736, which has a provision to:

Prohibit districts from using advanced degrees in setting a salary schedule for instructional personnel or school administrators hired on or after July 1, 2011, unless the degree is held in the individual’s area of certification and is only a salary supplement.

Truth be told, I have no problem whatsoever with this clause. As long as a teacher’s master’s degree is related to his/her certification, they still get paid a supplement, and money is money. And it really doesn’t affect many people, because most school districts, like St. John’s County, simply offer a recurring annual supplement to teachers who have a master’s or doctorate in their certified field, which is completely lawful.

The problem in DCPS is that they interpreted the law as a one-time supplement, DTU inexplicably let them get away with it, and no one has fixed the issue in the past three years.

As a paying member of DTU, it’s puzzling that (a.) the union let this happen in the first place, (b.) the union had to be made aware of the issue, (c.) the union has now been “aware of the issue” for two years, (d.) DCPS seems willing to resolve it, and yet it’s still not resolved.

Certainly, this issue certainly reflects poorly on the priorities of DCPS, but I think this issue is an even bigger embarrassment for DTU. They’re supposed to be arguing on our behalf as teachers. I as an individual teacher should not have to be bringing these arguments to their attention.

I apologize if this post appears to be self-serving. But in my opinion, this issue is bigger than a few teachers’ paychecks for two reasons that I’d like you to ponder:

  1. DCPS should make this district attractive to highly qualified and educated teachers. Simple logic suggests that teachers with Master’s/Doctorates who are able to move out of/avoid DCPS, will do so. Why wouldn’t they? And I don’t see how this possible “brain drain” could possibly be good for our students.
  2. When students see their own school board thumbing its nose at having highly educated teachers; when they see that DCPS literally says with their actions that education has no value, how can they believe any of us when we say education is valuable?

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