WASHINGTON, DC—The recent decision by the primary accreditor of education schools to eliminate sensitivity to “social justice” as a part of its published grading guidelines is a major victory for forces opposed to politicization of the college classroom. The action by NCATE—the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education—comes in the wake of a campaign by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and others opposing “disposition” assessments of prospective teachers as unconstitutional political litmus tests.
“It is indeed fortunate that an agency endorsed by the U.S. government is no longer encouraging universities to meddle with their students’ consciences in this way,” ACTA president Anne Neal said. “However, the fight is far from over. Huge problems remain in teacher education and education school accreditation.”
Neal testified yesterday before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which makes recommendations to the Secretary of Education regarding the federal certification of accrediting agencies. She recommended that the certification of NCATE not be renewed until it ceased encouraging education schools to judge students’ commitment to politicized concepts such as “social justice” and “diversity” via evaluations of their “dispositions.” These evaluations came to public attention earlier this year in the wake of controversies at Brooklyn College and Washington State University, where student Ed Swan was nearly expelled for espousing the “wrong” political and religious views.
“The Department of Education should demand clearly defined principles which relate directly to a prospective teacher’s future success—namely skills and subject matter knowledge—not feelings, values and ‘dispositions,’” Neal said.
At the Committee meeting, NCATE president Arthur Wise announced that his organization was removing the term “social justice” from its materials. However, NCATE materials still contain the word “diversity,” which prompted the row at Washington State. Moreover, as outlined in Neal’s testimony, many universities’ policies have already adopted objectionable language due to the former materials.
“It is remarkably short-sighted to think that eliminating a few words eliminates the problem of education school politicization,” Neal said. “As ACTA has been pointing out for years, our education schools are failing our children. NCATE’s decision yesterday is a step forward, but only that. ACTA will continue to fight for real reform.”
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a national education nonprofit dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. ACTA has a network of alumni and trustees around the country. One of ACTA’s programs, Trustees for Better Teachers, focuses specifically on the ways trustees can help reform teacher education. ACTA has issued numerous reports on higher education including How Many Ward Churchills?, Intellectual Diversity: Time for Action, The Hollow Core, and Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.