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Education

Just What Are Those Education ‘Doctorates’ Good For?

The recent flap over calling the First Lady “Doctor Biden” has faded from memory, but it’s worth pondering the value of the programs that award doctoral degrees for studying education.

In today’s Martin Center article, Terry Stoops, the education specialist at the John Locke Foundation, writes about degrees like Mrs. Biden’s. He covers the history of educational doctorates and writes:

In practice, the EdD focused on professional training for educators and administrators rather than a research-focused enterprise. As Frank Freeman concluded in his 1931 book, Practices Of American Universities In Granting Higher Degrees In Education: A Series Of Official Statements, the doctor of education degree appeared to be designed to ‘organize existing knowledge instead of discovering new truths.’

That might be valuable, but hardly seems to merit the appellation “doctor.” Moreover, those programs appear to require very little serious work on the part of students, as Mrs. Biden’s sloppy dissertation shows.

And yet, Ed.D. programs have proliferated. Why? Stoops explains:

Moreover, doctor of education programs and prospective school district administrators enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. Teachers and junior-level administrators looking for higher-paying administrative positions in the school district hierarchy provide a steady source of dollars to EdD programs.

Because wages for public school employees are based partly on credentials, taxpayers subsidize the automatic salary increases awarded to those who earn the doctoral degree. Taxpayers also support the schools of education offering the degree and grant programs that support those enrolled in the program. I have yet to encounter compelling evidence confirming that dollars-for-doctorates produces meaningful benefits for students.

So, the programs and their degrees are another means of bilking the taxpayers. They pay for the schools and then they have to pay again after teachers and administrators get their degrees and automatic pay increases. From the point of view of the education blob, education doctorates are a gold mine.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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