Saint Martin's student's
research pressures state to check teachers' degrees
Dec. 12, 2004
Lacey – An original research project done by Saint
Martin’s College senior Sarah Carrico is resulting in closer scrutiny of
Washington teachers who may have bogus master’s or doctoral degrees –
degrees that translate into automatic pay raises, better job standing.
Carrico, a double major in political science and
history from Meridian, Idaho, became interested in researching the
educational credentials of Washington’s teachers last year when she
heard national stories about federal workers obtaining big pay raises
after getting bogus degrees. She wondered if the same was true for
Washington’s teachers, who earn extra pay as they attain more education
While working at Olympia’s non-profit Evergreen
Freedom Foundation, a non-profit that studies public policy, she
undertook a three-month research project that examined not only the
degrees state teachers claimed to have earned, but also whether the
degree-granting institutions were accredited or merely “diploma mills” –
fraudulent or substandard organizations that make money by granting
degrees that require little or no college-level work.
With the help of mentors, Carrico surveyed 22 percent
of the state’s school district’s, uncovering six Washington teachers
profiting from illegitimate degrees. While the State’s Office of the
Superintendent of Public Instruction has a prerequisite requiring
credentialed teachers to have degrees from accredited institutions, the
state has no law that makes the use of illegitimate academic degrees
illegal to use in obtaining a job or raise. Carrico’s work resulted in
foundation recommendations to do so, as well as to survey all Washington
school districts to identify teachers with illegitimate degrees and to
adopt a flexible teacher salary model based on seniority and
“My friends joked with me this summer, saying I was
ruining seven people’s lives by publishing this report,” Carrico says.
“But once I found the information, the thought of the public, the
taxpayers, not knowing where their money was going, quite literally
She also says she was troubled to think that students
were getting short-changed at the same time the individuals in question
To read more about Carrico’s research, go to
www.effwa.org/highlighters/v14_n26.php on the web.
Carrico, who is currently at Japan’s Mukogawa Women’s
University on an exchange student scholarship, will complete her degree
at Saint Martin’s College in 2005. She is a 2001 graduate of Eagle High
School in Meridian.
For more information:
Richard Langill, Ph.D.
Office of Communication