NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Raise Standards for Teachers and Free Them to Teach

July 9, 2013

Like any profession, teaching must attract quality applicants and train them well if the job is to be done effectively. In the United States, we do neither. That's a big problem because teachers are the single most important element of a school that affects how well children can learn. Bad teachers damage our civic culture, economy and national happiness, says Joy Pullmann, managing editor of School Reform News and an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute.

  • Unfortunately, the average U.S. teacher was a mediocre achiever in school.
  • Students who intend to major in education have below-average SAT scores, which correspond to a below-proficient ranking on state grade-by-grade tests.
  • Teaching coursework in college is among the least challenging, and education majors require more remedial classes than their counterparts in humanities and social sciences.
  • Despite these deficiencies, education majors receive the highest grades of all college students, according to research by University of Missouri economics professor Cory Koedel.

A big reason teaching no longer attracts brainy folks is that such people, especially women, can get more satisfying jobs elsewhere. Indeed, the profession attracts those who want a conveyor belt to an early retirement with pay and benefits that average 50 percent higher than their abilities would earn them elsewhere, according to research by Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine.

Vivacious learners also dislike the mindless drivel forced onto prospective teachers.

  • Most teacher preparation prioritizes progressive learning methods and ideology rather than the content teachers must impart to children.
  • Teachers who have pursued content-specific majors or previous careers have stronger academic records than those who undergo traditional preparation.

A review of the available research on teacher certification has decisively shown it does not result in better teachers. It's time to eliminate certification mandates that only perpetuate a monopoly of failed ideology on future generations, and to allow schools to restructure pay and workplace conditions to attract the best and brightest once again. The nation's children deserve it, and our economy needs it.

Source: Joy Pullmann, "Raise Standards for Teachers and Free Them to Teach," Washington Examiner, July 2, 2013.


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