School district re-considers past teacher requirement

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At the Socorro school board meeting held Monday night, there was a discussion about a 2006 policy from the Socorro Consolidated School District which required teachers to have their master’s degree within six years of employment. At the time, the school district was paying for the degree program for the teachers, but due to funding situations, the district can no longer pay for the degrees, said School Superintendent Randall Earwood.

Once a master’s degree is obtained by a teacher, they will move up. Earwood said he values education.

“How can we value education and what does it look like,” he asked. “Is there a difference between two pieces of paper for degrees? Are we going to specialize teachers and how will it help in the classroom?”

He said research shows math and science teachers with a master’s degree improve education in high school; however, in an elementary school there is no research that supports the effectiveness of teaching with a master’s degree, Earwood said.

The master’s degree policy should stay in place and be researched, he said.

“I wish I had my master’s degree when I started teaching, because it would have been more effective,” said School Board President Ann Shiells.

If a teacher has a master’s degree they are more informed and are better because they are specialized, Shiells said. She said teachers need better skills, and even if it is a huge sacrifice the advanced degree is necessary. There are three levels of teachers pay at the Socorro schools, starting with the bachelor’s degree, and increasing with $10,000 in salary for each level, Earwood said. No action was taken by the school board on what step they will take regarding the policy. They will wait until the next board meeting.

“How many teachers have master’s degrees and move onto other states for more money?” said school board member James Chavez. “We shouldn’t make our staff get a master’s degree. They are stressed, and if they want to, they will do it on their own.”

Towards the end of the school board meeting, board members voted to waiver the board anti-nepotism policy for Earwood’s daughter, as the new social studies teacher at Socorro High School. She was hired because she had the qualifications, Earwood said.