Why settle for one over the other? In fact, there is good evidence that the best way to attract highly qualified and diverse candidates to traditional teacher prep is to do as alternative programs such as Teach For America have done: make preparation more selective, not less. This past year, TFA only accepted 14% of its 48,000 applicants, yet 35% of them had racial or ethnic minority backgrounds.
No one can refute the substantial body of research that higher academic standards for teachers are a must. That research forms the basis of our own selectivity standard in the National Review. But notice how the standard attends to both selectivity and diversity. To earn top marks, programs can't just rely on strong selective admissions standards. They also have to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, by recruiting more minority students than the campus as a whole or, alternatively, exceeding the minority composition of the state's general teaching population.