Has the Overeducation of Teachers Turned Public Education into Gibberish?

Public school teachers are no longer incompetent. They are just strategizing the educational synergies of multiple levels of achievement.


At Slate, there's a piece on the jargonization of public school education complete with the sort of buzzwords and gibberish you expect to encounter in goofier parts of the business world and higher end academic settings where not understanding anything is the point.

But somewhere along the line, public education became so completely overmastered by its own jargon, broad templates, and unspecified testable outcomes, that at times yesterday I felt as if I were toggling between a business school seminar and the space program; acronyms alone—seemingly random sequences of letters like MAP and SOL and EAPE—were being deployed more frequently than actual words. To be sure, the teachers seemed as maddened by it as the parents were. Even if we can all agree about the singular benefits of “project-based learning across the curriculum," I am less than perfectly certain any of us knows what it means.

“Un-levelling.” We do that now. And “fitnessgram testing?” Possibly the new un-levelling.

I checked with friends this morning to find out if I was alone in my sense that I had fallen asleep in the late 1990s and woken to a world in which I have no idea what schools even do anymore. My friend Stephanie advised me that her back to school night involved a discussion with a teacher about “interfacing with a child’s developmental space,” as well as a reference to “scaffolding text to text connections” in Ramona the Pest. My friend Laurel was told by her child’s teachers that “the children will be required to work in groups in this class, as collaboration is a 21st-century skill."

The gibberish has an obvious source. The overeducation of teachers isn't just destroying school budgets. It's leading to jargon being substituted for results. The same way it is in some parts of the business world and academia.

52 percent of the nation’s 3.3 million public school teachers have a masters’ degree or better.

Despite the insistence of teachers' unions, a masters' degree does not help children. It helps public school teachers get paid more.

Every year, American schools pay more than $8.6 billion in bonuses to teachers with master's degrees, even though the idea that a higher degree makes a teacher more effective has been mostly debunked.

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.

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.

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.

While the number of MA's in the classroom doesn't help kids. It does increase the adoption of gibberish as overeducated teachers put their useless education to use making the system that much more confusing and impenetrable.

Public school teachers are no longer incompetent. They are just strategizing the educational synergies of multiple levels of achievement.