The evidence seems to suggest is that our society’s most highly educated people are turned away from teaching because of conditions which the teacher unions continue to support, namely: differentiated pay, differentiated status among teachers, and high stakes accountability tied to evaluation. Think about the professions that our most highly educated citizens prefer (the Ivy League graduates in the U.S.).There is much to quibble with here. I would not equate having an undergraduate or MBA degree from an Ivy League school as necessarily being "highly educated." Investment banking, law, finance, and business do not, as far as I can see, require any brains beyond what it takes to become a doctor, scientist, engineer, policy analyst, or liberal arts professor. The most distinct feature of the people I knew who went to business school was that they wanted to make a lot of money. They were quite unapologetic about that. They were not motivated by any particular curiosity to know something or a desire to contribute to a better world. This is not to say that they weren't smart in a certain reptilean way, but one would be hard-pressed to have an intelligent discussion with them about art or literature or politics.
Let’s see: Investment Banking, Finance, Law, Entrepreneurs. What is the common denominator here? Making a lot of money, but doing so under differentiated terms and market pressures in which pay is tied to performance as judged by the employees clients. It’s not fair to say on the one hand that our society’s smartest people avoid teaching because of the conditions of that profession, when the very conditions that non teacher reformers want to implement (e.g. pay for performance; more accountability/high risk reward pay) are precisely the conditions the union opposes but that top college graduates want as demonstrated by the careers they currently choose
In this week's New Republic, Anthony Grafton reviews a recent book by Louis Menaud on the plight of graduate students in the humanities, who spend 10 or more poverty-stricken years working on the PhDs only to find slim job prospects awaiting them when they finish. Grafton asks whether something should be done to deter them from ever attempting such a foolish endeavor. His answer is that, although the poor souls should be informed from the start about the difficulty of the quest, in some sort of crazy way the system works:
One might say that you need a vocation. And the vocation of scholarship is hard ... One reason graduate school demands so much time, so much effort, and so much difficulty is that it is designed -- badly and clumsily, but not insanely -- to attract and then to test people who think they have this sort of calling.The commenter who thinks our "most educated" citizens gravitate towards banking, law, and business -- and others of his ilk who are the powers behind the current deformation of public education -- have never had a taste of this calling. They no inkling of what it means to be driven to seek truth and beauty for their own sakes, not for the large salaries they will command.
I once had an English professor who said that the most educated man he ever met was a crane operator who kept a shelf of books in his cab. He didn't say whether the crane operator had gone to an Ivy League college or not.
Too bad the current crop of education deformers will never understand how or why a highly educated man could end up driving a crane.