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This study reports teacher candidate beliefs about the purposes of schooling and their reasons for choosing a career in teaching. The beliefs are analyzed in relation to the moral work of teaching, and the findings suggest that teacher candidates choose teaching as a career, in part, to engage in moral work, and that they believe that schooling has moral ends. The article concludes by providing implications for teacher education research and practice, suggesting that these implications have particular relevance in the current environment of high-stakes testing and accountability, as well as for constructivist teacher educators who seek to understand and meaningfully respond to their teacher candidates’ beliefs.

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This is an author's accepted manuscript of an article published in Peabody Journal of Education, 88(2), 180-197, 2013. Copyright Taylor & Francis. Available online at: