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.

Ideology in the School of Education

May 23, 2005 by ACTA

Last February, Le Moyne College made national news when it expelled Scott McConnell, a master's student in education, for writing a course essay in which he defended the use of corporal punishment in schools and outlined his objections to the concept of the multicultural classroom. McConnell, who is being defended by FIRE, has recently filed a $20 million lawsuit, and stands thereby to become one of this year's more sympathetic poster children for the perils of political correctness.

But McConnell is not the only ed student whose prospects hinge on his willingness to conform to his school's political agenda, and Le Moyne is not the only school whose ed program unabashedly imposes an ideological litmus test on its students. As Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson notes in today's edition of InsideHigherEd.com, education programs openly advertise themselves as offering curricula centered on "social justice," with no apparent concern about how variable, idiosyncratic, and political the concept of social justice is.

Johnson cites, for example, SUNY Oneonta, where teachers-in-training must "provide evidence of their understanding of social justice in teaching activities, journals, and portfolios...and identify social action as the most advanced level;" the University of Kansas, where students' perspectives must be "more global than national and concerned with ideals such as world peace, social justice, respect for diversity and preservation of the environment;" the University of Vermont, which aims to produce teachers who will use their classrooms to create "a more humane and just society, free from oppression, that fosters respect for ethnic and cultural diversity;" Marquette University, where an institutional "commitment to social justice in schools and society" will create teachers who will use the classroom "to transcend the negative effects of the dominant culture;" and the University of Toledo, which proudly claims to be in the business of "preparing citizens to lead productive lives in a democratic society characterized by social justice."

Johnson notes that it is now officially more important in ed programs to demonstrate a certain political "disposition" than it is to demonstrate thorough knowledge of the subjects one plans to teach. He notes, too, that the ideological cast of education programs is far from accidental, and explains how, at his own Brooklyn College, the loaded rhetoric of social justice has been used to facilitate the screening of students who do not fit the desired political mold. Things have gotten so bad at Brooklyn College that students are filing complaints. But Brooklyn College's commitment to social justice does not extend, apparently, to its treatment of students. Those who have complained have not met with fair treatment, but have instead been punished for criticizing the school's effort to tell them what they must think, feel, and believe. The details are chilling and telling. Well worth a read.

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