North Carolina Dumps Teacher Tenure, Pay for Graduate Degrees

North Carolina legislators have approved a proposal to revoke teacher tenure from public school teachers in the state. Katherine Mangu-Ward of the blog explains that teachers will no longer qualify for lifetime tenure after 5 years on the job. Instead, those who perform well will be offered 4-year contracts, while those who do not will have to male do with 1- or 2- year agreements.

Tenure allows teachers to avail themselves to the due process before they can be dismissed. According to Mangu-Ward, this change will finally make it easier for schools to get rid of its chronic under-performers.

Tenure is not the only thing that will change now that Republican Governor Pat McCrory has put his signature on the state's budget last week. In addition to the tenure change, teachers will also now lose an automatic pay increases they've received in the past for earning a master's degree.

According to Stephanie Banchero and Meredith Rutland of The Wall Street Journal, it is common for states to offer salary increases both for years of service and for additional academic qualifications. However, there is some dispute over whether these measures actually lead to better instructional quality overall.

North Carolina's $20.6 billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 was crafted by Republican lawmakers and came after the GOP gained control of both legislative chambers and the governor's office for the first time in 144 years.

Mr. McCrory said in a statement that the 2013-2015 budget "maintains public investments in education" and other services and noted 56% will go toward K-12 and higher education—1% more than in the previous budget.

Sandi Jacobs, who works for the National Council on Teacher Quality, believes that results of an objective teacher assessment system should drive pay increases for instructors – not just advanced degrees. Research on the links between teacher quality and post-graduate degrees has not been clear, one way or another. Although some have shown no relationship, others have indicated that getting a master's in math or science might have an impact.

About 28% of North Carolina teachers hold master's degrees.

A 2012 study by a researcher from the University of Washington's College of Education found that the nation spent about $14.8 billion on the master's bump for teachers in the 2007-2008 school year.

Not unexpectedly, the reaction of North Carolina teachers to the change has not been positive. One 12-year veteran has already told North Carolina's WBTW News 13 that she plans to leave the profession as a result.

Adrienne Lu of Pew's Stateline blog says that opponents of the change think that the lack of job security will lead to high rates of teacher turnover – something that may hurt students in the long run.

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