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A Status-Conscious Profession?

In a satirical "guide" to the social acceptability of various inequalities in the U.S.
New York Times columnist David Brooks says high school teachers are more sensitive about status inequality than college teachers:

Status inequality is acceptable for college teachers. Universities exist within a finely gradated status structure, with certain schools like Brown clearly more elite than other schools. University departments are carefully ranked and compete for superiority.
Status inequality is unacceptable for high school teachers. Teachers at this level strongly resist being ranked. It would be loathsome to have one's department competing with other departments in nearby schools.

Thoughts on the irony he points out? Is it true? Do the differences between high school and university teaching jobs necessitate divergent social norms? How might Brooks' analysis fit into the current school-reform debate?

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