Community Benefits from Earning a Masters in Education

The foundation of a strong community is a strong education system.

Think about it. Whenever a society has lacked educational structure, crime and poverty are more widespread, people lack skills and knowledge to succeed, and general health suffers. One need only consider the Dark Ages to remember a time when education was provided to few individuals, forcing community members to live in fear of rampant crime, disease, and disorder.

Today, thankfully, education is a right that all members of a community enjoy. Effective schools are the backbone of a community, educating the future leaders of tomorrow. However, a school is only as effective as the teachers who make it up. In this way, the individual accomplishments and successes of a teacher have far greater impacts outside of the classroom.

The best schools are made effective by teachers who are well-prepared to meet a variety of student needs, while maintaining a high level of knowledge about a subject. Teachers have huge impacts on a student’s education, and as a result, on a community’s future.

Earning a master’s degree is the best way a teacher guarantees they gain the skills they need to create the next generation of leaders. Not only are the personal benefits of a master’s degree immense, but the community-wide benefits are felt for years to come. Students taught by master’s-educated teachers are more likely to graduate, better prepared to positively impact a community’s economy, and less likely to engage in risky behavior.

What is a community and how does education fit in?

Webster’s dictionary defines a community as a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living within a larger society. While a community may consist of bankers, store owners, clerks, lawyers, and police officers, few people hold as much sway over a community’s future as teachers.

Teachers must inspire their students to succeed, and do everything in their power to help these students along the way. The following are some ways a teacher’s ability and knowledge affects the community as a whole:

  • Reducing student dropout – and crime
  • Increasing overall educational attainment and future employment prospects
  • Educating students about healthy living

Given the large influence teachers have on a community, it’s in a community’s best interest that these teachers are well-educated and prepared to meet any challenges in the educational process.

Master’s programs strongly concentrate on providing a teacher with information on student learning patterns, teaching strategies, assessment plans, and content knowledge. With their wide range of knowledge, these teachers have a better chance of ensuring individual success, leading to future community-wide success as these students continue through school, enter the workforce, and avoid risky behavior.

Preventing student dropout, reducing crime

One of the most worrying challenges in the Field of Education today is how to prevent student dropout. When students withdraw from the educational process, the whole community suffers.

When students dropout and are unable to learn basic problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, their life opportunities sharply decrease. Student dropout is associated with increased teenage pregnancy, crime, and low socioeconomic status. As these students mature and enter the workforce, they seriously lack many of the skills employers are looking for, contributing to more widespread community unemployment.

To help these struggling students, many teachers enter graduate school with hopes of gaining classroom management and teaching strategies that will engage their students and encourage them to stick with school. Teachers specifically hone these skills to prevent students from becoming frustrated or dissatisfied at school in the first place.

In a master’s program, teachers focus heavily on implementing assessment techniques that allow them to tailor lesson plans to individual student needs. Teaching and communication skills gained in master’s degree programs allow teachers to address individual student concerns, meeting more of their needs, and allowing teachers to develop deeper relationships with their students. For example, all teachers understand that students learn in different ways, but some have difficulty adjusting their patterns to meet those needs.

For a whole community, the benefit of having a master’s educated teacher is apparent in the student retention rate. Master’s teachers simply have better mental tools to assess challenging situations and adjust lesson plans to push through. And studies show that retaining students in high school is truly to the benefit of a community for a major reason – crime.

Criminal behavior is perhaps the most visible result of student dropout and obviously has a very negative impact on a community. High school dropouts are less likely to find gainful employment, leading many to turn to criminal behavior to make ends meet.

The Justice Policy Institute investigated the 10 states with the highest and lowest high school graduation rates, and compared the information with each state’s crime rate. Researchers found that the 10 states with the highest percentage of population with high school diplomas had a 60% lower violent crime rate than the states with the lowest percentage of high school diplomas.

So what can be done to reduce this rate?

Students who dropout of high school report several reasons for doing so, but consistently report that the top reasons for dropping out include “not liking school,” or “not getting along with teachers.” Additionally, many students said they would feel more motivated to learn if more was expected of them.

Master’s programs specifically help teachers understand how to reach this challenged segment of the student population. By using knowledge of student learning patterns, pairing that knowledge with an understanding of different teaching strategies, teachers discover solutions to learning impediments, and are less like to “give up” on a challenging student.

Students who know their teachers care are more likely to stick with school and not dropout. And because the student dropout rate is so strongly correlated to the crime rate, teachers are a major factor in improving the quality of life in their communities.

Students who stay in school and receive education from master’s-level teachers are more likely to succeed in their future careers. By inspiring and motivating their students, teachers are a major force for economic growth in a community.

The economic benefits of effective teachers

Few individuals make the kinds of impacts teachers make on their students. An effective teacher has the ability to inspire and stimulate their students, showing them that the skills they learn in class transfer to career opportunities down the line.

Economics and Education
  • 72% of business leaders report that workforce quality of education is a significant factor in deciding where to locate.
  • Investing in pre-kindergarten programming has yielded a return of $7 for every dollar invested.
  • Increasing student retention rates would produce $45 billion per year in net economic benefit for the country.
  • Better teachers and better schools increase home values, and attract more individuals to move to the community.

Source: The Brookings Institute

As students achieve more and realize career goals, the entire community benefits. Master’s-level teachers help to create the next wave of workers in the community, and must instill a sense of motivation and desire for success in all their students.

Studies show that effective teachers have a large effect on the lifetime economic outcomes of their students. According to “The Economic Value of Higher Teacher Quality,” by Eric A. Hanushek, students who have high quality teachers are more prepared to enter the working world. Hanushek measured teacher quality by student outcomes, and found students with “high-quality” teachers learned almost three times as much material in a year than other students.

With excellent teaching come great rewards for both the students and the community as a whole. Researchers concluded that a high quality teacher presiding over a single classroom of 20 students could increase the combined lifetime earnings of those students by as much as $400,000.

There are likely several reasons for this. For one, teachers considered high-quality usually earn advanced degrees, and are better prepared to communicate why a student must learn something. These teachers have spent more time exploring communication and classroom management strategies, allowing them to direct the class in more meaningful lessons and waste less time on discipline or idle talk, leading to greater student achievement.

Master’s level teachers can better explain the real-life applications of the material students learn, sparking greater interest in those students, motivating them to continue along their educational path. This leads students to consider careers in the subjects they enjoyed while in school.

For example, consider a highly effective science teacher lecturing about the different organs that make up the human body. The teacher has observed that general memorization of these organs hasn’t been very effective with the students, who have become increasingly disruptive. Thankfully, this teacher’s master’s program provided him with the skills to re-frame classroom material to fit student learning patterns.

The next day of class, the students enter to find the teacher wearing a mock doctor’s outfit, informing the students that they must identify organs that are failing in a patient. The teacher gives the students basic information about what’s wrong, and let’s them learn in an interactive way that’s much more effective and engaging than simply memorizing the parts and functions of an organ.

By understanding these applied methods of learning, master’s-level teachers inspire their students to attend higher education and enter careers. This teacher’s lesson plan may have contributed to a new doctor in the community years down the line. Similarly, teachers of other subjects have profound effects on their students’ futures. A math teacher might inspire the next engineer, while English teachers might encourage young writers.

As better educated and better trained individuals graduate and enter the real world, their successes contribute to overall economic growth in the community.

A better educated community is a healthier community

Master’s-level teachers increase student achievement, leading to a better educated community. It may seem obvious, but better educated people are more likely to make good decisions, avoid risky behavior, and lead healthier, less-stressful lives.

Communities need master’s trained teachers to help educate students about risky, unhealthy behaviors like drug use, school drop out, and unhealthy eating. While many students learn how to avoid risky behavior from parents, a teacher’s interaction with students is just as important.

Community Education Facts
  • On average, a high school graduate lives six to nine years longer than a dropout
  • 1.2 million students dropout of school each year, driving health care costs up by $17 billion over the course of their lifetimes.
  • Adults who dropped out of high school are more likely than graduates to die prematurely from cardiovascular disease, cancer, infection, injury, lung disease, and diabetes

Sources: “Contribution of major diseases to disparities in mortality” New England Journal of Medicine
“Healthier and Wealthier: Decreasing Health Care Costs by Increasing Educational Attainment” Alliance for Excellent Education

Teachers are role models in a students life, even if they might not realize it sometimes. The benefit of a master’s program is that teachers gain a better view of their roles as authority figures, and learn communication strategies to deepen relationships with students.

These teachers are better prepared to engage with students in frank discussions about drug and alcohol abuse, giving their students a clear picture of the risks involved. Many students who fall victim to drug and alcohol abuse drop out of school, shattering future hopes.

Master’s-trained teachers are simply better at understanding a student’s point of view, and relating to their problems or concerns. Students view these teachers in a more positive light, and are more likely to emulate that teacher’s healthy actions.

And more effective teacher role models are needed now than ever, thanks to the emergence of a nationwide crisis – childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity is linked to numerous health issues, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. More worrying, these children are also more likely to grow up to become obese adults with heart disease and a greater risk for cancer.

According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2008, one in three children was overweight or obese. Obesity is quickly becoming a nationwide challenge, and more communities are looking to schools with effective teachers to lead the charge against this problem.

The CDC notes that schools and teachers have a particularly critical role in establishing environments that support healthy policies and practices for students. Effective, master level teachers must lead the charge to implement clear health education curriculum that promotes health eating habits and physical activity. These teachers are able to instill problem-solving skills and decision-making abilities in their students that help students make healthier choices.

Ensuring students are healthy and making good decisions has community-wide implications. For one, a healthy community is able to spend more money on town improvement projects rather than increasing spending on healthcare costs or social programs for unhealthy citizens.

Additionally, healthy communities are more attractive to businesses. According to one director of a statewide initiative to reduce childhood obesity, businesses spend anywhere from 29 percent to 119 percent more on obese workers because of illness and increased health insurance premiums. When businesses are looking to re-locate, they may consider the general health of a population.

In the past, weight management, drug use, and other risky behaviors were considered personal problems. Today, communities understand the danger these factors pose to the future, and will demand more effective teachers to help tackle the issue. As students continue to participate in risky behavior, more teachers will need the educational footing to enact positive and healthy changes in those students’ lives.

Communities need master’s level teachers

As society comes to recognize the wide range of benefits effective teachers bring to the classroom and larger community, more parents, leaders, and schools will demand teachers earn their master’s degrees.

Master’s degree programs better prepare these teachers to enact the changes communities need to succeed in the future. Because the greatest investment in a community’s future is children, communities will demand that teachers gain as much training and background knowledge possible to effectively guide students along life’s path.

If you’re interested in learning about some of the specific personal benefits of earning a master’s degree that help to contribute to the community-wide benefits, click here.


Teaching and Learning