Loving children is not enough

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When people are asked to identify the key characteristic of a good teacher, the most common answer often seems to be "someone who loves children."  It's a response that always makes me scratch my head...my own experience of really bad teachers was rarely that they hated children--it was just that they didn't have a clue how to teach.  The tide may be turning, perhaps because of so much media attention on teacher quality, including a plethora of stories about hot-shot students vying to enter Teach For America.

The 44th annual PDK/Gallup Poll, released today, presents, we think, a shifting public consensus on teacher quality. The public supports more selective admissions requirements for future educators, with 57 percent of those surveyed stating that they supported more rigorous entrance requirements for teacher preparation. 

Current standards to enter ed schools are not on par with the public's expectations--too often making ed schools a campus refuge for less able students.  Most institutions rely on only a basic skills test, aimed at middle school level content, for admissions, if they use any test at all.  GPA requirements for admissions are low (2.5 generally), but once admitted, most teacher candidates somehow earn a stellar GPA (e.g. the average GPA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's ed school is 3.91!)  Since the generally low ed school standards are hardly a secret, we don't think these survey results reflect any misconceptions on the part of the public about the status quo.