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Economists Want to Stop Teachers' Degree Bonuses

Economists Want to Stop Teachers' Degree Bonuses

Think getting a masters will give your salary a boost? The future is uncertain.

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP | Associated Press

Every year, American schools pay more than $8.6 billion in bonuses to teachers with

Despite more than a decade of research showing the money has little impact on student achievement, state lawmakers and other officials have been reluctant to tackle this popular way for teachers to earn more money.

That could soon change, as local school districts around the country grapple with shrinking budgets.

Just this week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the economy has given the nation an opportunity to make dramatic improvements in the productivity of its education system and to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Duncan told the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday that master’s degree bonuses are an example of spending money on something that doesn’t work.

Poll: Are you looking for a new job for the next school year?

Poll: Are you looking for a new job for the next school year?

On Friday, billionaire Bill Gates took aim at school budgets and the master’s degree bonus.

“My own state of Washington has an average salary bump of nearly $11,000 for a master’s degree – and more than half of our teachers get it. That’s more than $300 million every year that doesn’t help kids,” he said.

“And that’s one state,” said Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at a speech Friday in Louisville to the Council of Chief State School Officers. Gates also took aim at pensions and seniority.

“Of course, restructuring pay systems is like kicking a beehive,” he acknowledged.

As of 2008, 48 percent of public school teachers in this country had a

Most school budgets have been tight for years, with districts trimming everything from printing to teachers.

Michael Podgursky, an economics professor at the University of Missouri, said the economic downturn may force payroll reform in some places where the political will has been lacking. And they don’t have to blow up the old system to do it, he said.

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