In a professor’s office during my freshman year of college, I had to do it yet again: defend my decision to study elementary education. My professor—someone who, of course, was an educator—asked why I would want to teach young children and suggested that I might want to consider doing something else with my talents, that I could do so much more than be “just” a teacher.
Since a teacher’s intelligence is too often assumed to correlate with the age of her students, I’m not surprised that I’ve encountered so many stunned “why?” comments over the years, questions I never would have heard if I’d decided to be a doctor or an investment banker. They reflect a pervasive and poisonous view that teachers, and especially teachers in public elementary schools, should not have come from the tops of their classes or have graduated from elite universities.
Unfortunately, that perception is too often true. According to recent SAT data, test scores of prospective teachers ranked 16th out of 20 professions, and about one-third of teachers scored in the bottom one-fourth of SAT test-takers. It should come as little surprise, then, that less than 10 percent of teachers in this country graduate from our highly selective colleges and universities. <Read more.>