Ever since wider opportunities opened up for talented, educated women, schoolteachers as a group have been among the least-qualified, least-talented set of college graduates. On achievement tests, education majors tend to score lowest of all different majors. See also this table of LSAT scores, where education majors narrowly beat "pre-law" and "criminology" for last place. To quote Walter Williams:
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) compiles loads of statistics on education. The NCES "Digest of Education Statistics" Table 136 shows average SAT scores by student characteristics for 2001. Students who select education as their major have the lowest SAT scores of any major (964). Math majors have the highest (1174).
It's the same story when education majors finish college and take tests for admission to graduate schools. In the case of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), education majors have an average score that's the lowest (467) of all majors except for sociology majors (434). Putting this in perspective, math majors score the highest (720), followed closely by economics in third place (625).
A culture of mediocrity sets in early, as everyone realizes that education school is a home for the least intelligent, lowest achieving academic students.
Thanks to teachers unions, this culture is vigorously carried forward into public schools, where the unions, in their vigorous efforts to keep all students and schools mired at the same equally low level, implacably oppose any attempts to pay teachers according to the laws of supply and demand -- to pay talented teachers more; to pay more to those who want to work in inner-city hellholes; or to pay math and science teachers more.
However, the New York Times reports that these efforts may slowly be crumbling, in spite of adroit rear-guard efforts in Texas, Florida, and New York City to maintain the inherited standards of universal mediocrity. At this rate, teachers unions may someday potentially lose their status as the single most regressive force holding back millions of unlucky schoolchildren. Until the unions die their much-deserved dishonorable death to be reborn as genuinely progressive forces, however, the misery will continue.
Minnesota’s $86 million teacher professionalization and merit pay initiative has spread to dozens of the state’s school districts, and it got a lift this month when teachers voted overwhelmingly to expand it in Minneapolis. A major reason it is prospering, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in an interview, is that union leaders helped develop and sell it to teachers.
“As a Republican governor, I could say, ‘Thou shalt do this,’ and the unions would say, ‘Thou shalt go jump in the lake,’ ” Mr. Pawlenty said. “But here they partnered with us.”
Scores of similar but mostly smaller teacher-pay experiments are under way nationwide, and union locals are cooperating with some of them, said Allan Odden, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies teacher compensation. A consensus is building across the political spectrum that rewarding teachers with bonuses or raises for improving student achievement, working in lower income schools or teaching subjects that are hard to staff can energize veteran teachers and attract bright rookies to the profession.
“It’s looking like there’s a critical mass,” Professor Odden said. The movement to experiment with teacher pay, he added, “is still not ubiquitous, but it’s developing momentum.”
Some plans still run into strong opposition from teachers and their unions, as in Texas and Florida this year, where skeptical teachers rejected proposals from school districts. An incentive-pay proposal by Chancellor Joel I. Klein of the New York City public schools has stalled, with city officials and the teachers’ union blaming each other.