Education Montana Politics US Politics

Teachers Scam Online Masters

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Matt Singer highlights a story about two teachers in the Canyon Creek School District who received almost $40,000 in compensation that was the result of a masters degree obtained through a diploma mill that required no coursework other than the cognitive ability necessary to sign and mail a check.

Unsursprisingly, the MEA is on the wrong side of the issue, defending the teachers–arguing, essentially, that the teachers just exploited a loophole in the system and didn’t know any beter:

Steve Henry, a Montana Education Association representative, argued that receiving additional compensation for the Columbus University degrees was in compliance with the contract at the time. The teachers did not intentionally set out to defraud the district, he said.

The two teachers stated they knew degrees from Columbus University would not be recognized by the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) and did not submit their transcripts to OPI.

The MEA is on the wrong side of this issue. While they are charged with serving the members of the union, they do a disservice to the credibility of Montana teachers in general when they defend unethical practices. If these teachers (and the MEA) believe that it is acceptable for a teacher to receive credit for not doing any work, how can we credibly claim that students need to be responsible for themselves? If continuing education is truly valuable, the MEA should be defending the integrity of teachers who play by the rules, not those who knowingly do not.

There are broader issues that should be brought to light by this story, but I suspect never will. Most of the online education certification/renewal racket is an absurd waste of taxpayer money and time. From teachers who work on online degree work during class time to classes that are, at best, less than taxing, the online courses do little to improve education for Montana students, but as long as teachers can get raises, OPI can hire experts to evaulate renewal, and online ‘universities’ can make a huge profit without actually teaching, there is little incentive for real accountability.

The truly scary part is that Montana is moving forward with implementing these sham classes for our own high school studnets, but that is a post for another day.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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