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No extra pay for teachers seeking M.A.

By Lewis Miller, 2nd Take Team Member
On March 23, 2015

Gov. Pat McCrory's Mansion


It is not surprising that the N.C. law that eliminated the 10-15 percent supplemental pay incentive for teachers obtaining master’s degrees has support for and against it.

The N.C. General Assembly passed the bill in 2013, and the law went into effect beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

Teachers with master’s degrees were grandfathered in, according to

Winston-Salem State offers three graduate degree programs in education: Master of Education in Elementary Education; Master of Arts in the Teaching of English as a Second Language and Applied Linguistics; and Master of Arts in Teaching.

Since the law has been in place, enrollment in Winston-Salem State’s graduate program decreased minimally; 19 students were enrolled in the master’s program in 2013, and 18 students were enrolled in 2014.

Associate Professor Ludovic M. Kovalik teaches graduate courses in the English as a Second Language and Applied Linguistics program.

"The law is not entirely fair," Kovalik said.

"In all walks of life, we normally acknowledge special achievements carried out by people; in my mind, earning a master’s degree does fall within that category of special achievements. So it would be normal for that achievement to, one way or another, be recognized," he said.

Kovalik said that in the past, teachers with an MA were awarded funds for monetary recognition.

"They used to have small monetary incentives, no big deal but a few hundred dollars, $200 maybe $300 a month, for having an M license," where the term ‘M license’ stands for an advanced, master’s level teaching license.

"It’s not about going to school for another two or three years," he said. "It’s about earning a whole amount of extra knowledge," Kovalik said.

"If I were an oracle, I would know; I am not one. It is my hope, however, that our university will not eliminate the master’s programs in education."

"It’s not about going to school for another two or three years," he said. "It’s about earning a whole amount of extra knowledge."

Kimberly A. Bowie, the principal at Trinity Elementary School in the Randolph County School System said she has not seen a change in the number of eligible candidates applying for vacant positions in her school.

"I continue to receive numerous resumes for current positions posted on our system website. The staff members who were pursuing their master’s degree completed their course work by the required date in order to receive the increase in pay," she said.

"At this moment, I have no staff members who are seeking their masters in education. Is this a direct result of the cut in supplemental pay? I can’t say at this point."

Bowie said she hopes the supplemental pay cut will be reversed.

"We are in education, and our teachers are the role models for our students. I believe we have to support their continued education to encourage our students to continue their education past high school. I have faith that the state will recognize that when teachers return to school to obtain an advanced degree that it does directly impact the quality of instruction that occurs in the classroom on a daily basis."

Terrell Williams said the law is "unfair." Williams is a senior major from Raleigh who is a middle grades education major.

"If we [students] go to school extra time, we should get paid for our efforts," he said. Williams said that law will discourage people from working on a master’s.

"If I go to get a master’s, it would be in an area outside of teaching or education. Something with a more lucrative salary," he said.

Ronunda Claiborne agrees with Williams.

"The master’s [supplemental pay] cut was not beneficial, and when teachers try to go above and beyond and try to become masters in their craft, they should be rewarded and that’s a perk that should have stayed," said Claiborne, instruction coordinator and education liaison at O’Kelly Library.

"Winston-Salem State has been known for being a provider of education for teachers, and teachers aren’t going to choose to get that extra education if they aren’t going to see any benefits from it," she said.

Kovalik said he is not certain about the future of WSSU’s master’s programs.

"If I were an oracle, I would know; I am not one. It is my hope, however, that our university will not eliminate the master’s programs in education."

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