Reihan quotes Matt Yglesias on the matter of teacher pay and its relation to other things affecting the quality of teachers. Matt, sensibly, points out that there are “a lot of weird barriers to entry into the teaching profession – formalistic [teacher ed] requirements that have little relationship to classroom effectiveness.”
But what if teacher ed requirements function not just as a “bottleneck” as Matt puts it, limiting entry into the profession, but as a sort of reverse quality control, actively discouraging the more truly teacherly liberal arts and social sciences students by the sheer numbing stupidity of the content? I attached a teacher ed certificate to a state school English major because it was the only job I could think of for my major. I later found – during the required student teaching semester – that I loved teaching, but it was already too late. From the beginning of my Ed courses I knew, if this stuff has anything to do with the culture of that profession, I can’t have any part of it. It was a matter of self-respect. Or, if you will, vanity. But I would suspect this or something like it adds to the low esteem teaching is held in and discourages students frivolous enough, self-involved enough, or intellectually curious enough to risk taking a liberal arts major at a state school where all their practical friends are majoring in business and computer science.