Stephen Mucher, director of the Bard Master of Arts Teaching program in Los Angeles, warns about the precipitous decline in enrollments in teacher preparation programs.

Teachers are demoralized by scripted curricula and overemphasis on testing. They feel their voice doesn’t count in their workplace. Given the tide of teacher-bashing and mandates, they are right to feel demoralized.

“Career-minded college students are not oblivious to these developments. Since 2008, enrollment in teacher education programs in California is down 53%, and other bellwether states report a similar trend. Nationally, U.S. Department of Education statistics that include both traditional and alternative preparatory programs show that there were nearly 90,000 fewer teachers in training in 2012 than in 2008. Teach for America, which once celebrated 15 consecutive years of expansion, peaked in 2013. It is witnessing as much as a 25% drop in applications this year…..

“Our most promising educators crave work that honors their creativity and intellect. They are suspicious of easy answers. They need to hear more than the cliche that a great teacher can make a difference in a student’s life. They want to know whether this profession will make a difference in their own life.”

The teacher-bashing that has dominated the mainstream media in recent years has undermined the prestige of teaching. The insistence by the Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and many governors that teachers should be judged by student test scores has undermined the profession. What other profession is told how to evaluate its members by state legislators and governors?

Frankly, it is tiresome to hear critics say that teachers are not our “best and brightest.” Neither are our critics. I doubt that most critics would know how to teach a classroom of 30 children of any age, but they feel emboldened to complain about those who do it every day.

As we see the pipeline for new teachers growing smaller, and many veterans taking early retirement, where will we find new teachers? Who will be held accountable for this crisis in the teaching profession?