ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA Protests Political Screening of Teachers

June 9, 2005 by ACTA

Yesterday, ACTA called on the U.S. Department of Education, governors, and institutions of higher education to disavow ideological litmus tests imposed on prospective teachers. Disturbed by the news that the new guidelines issued by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) require education schools to assess the "dispositions" of teacher trainees as a requirement for certification, ACTA sent letters to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, whose Department formally recognizes national accreditors, governors of states that require NCATE accreditation, and Christopher Kimmich, president of Brooklyn College, where the school of education has punished students whose beliefs fall afoul of the proper "disposition."

ACTA outlined its position--that the concept of "disposition" amounts to an ideological litmus test for future educators, and that NCATE's new guidelines subordinate education to social engineering--in a press release issued yesterday:

According to the NCATE standards, "dispositions" encompass "beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice."

The new accrediting guidelines are being adopted in hundreds of institutions across the country accredited by NCATE, the primary accreditor of teacher preparation programs, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Seven states mandate NCATE accreditation for teacher-training programs, and NCATE has formal partnerships with 46 states for conducting joint reviews of schools of education, making NCATE's standards the virtual benchmark for teacher preparation across the nation.

According to the New York Sun, students at Brooklyn College recently expressed fears that the new guidelines were being used against prospective teachers who did not share the political views of their professors. Several students complained that they were penalized in a course on high school literacy when they sought to challenge the education professor's assertion that grammatical English was a language of oppressors.

"It is unconscionable for any college to impose guidelines which invite a political or ideological litmus test as a condition for a degree or entry into a profession," said Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. "To do so is patent discrimination against college students on matters of conscience, a violation of the First Amendment, and hostile to the very essence of a college education--the robust exchange of ideas."

More on this subject when and as Spellings, Kimmich, and others respond.

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