"Teachers in America often come from the bottom of the academic barrel..." -- Arne Duncan
Yes, he really said it, and despite his inevitable pull-back once his handlers get hold of him, he really means it. This Harvard jock, who never taught a day in his life, can't open his mouth, it seems,without demeaning teachers (or "white suburban moms" for that matter).
I'm not sure what the "academic barrel" is. I think he means the state universities and colleges of education, like the ones where I have taught for the past few decades, and where thousands of great teachers are produced under the tutelage of some of the country's greatest education professors and scholars.
To Duncan, the top of the "barrel" would probably mean the Ivy Leaguers like himself, who become the 5-week TFA wonders; the ones who, on average, flounder through their first 2 years in inner-city schools before fleeing for greener pastures.