Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Marquette’s Education School: Political Correctness Creates More Bad Publicity

From City Journal, a round-up of accounts of leftist ideological bias in education schools around the nation.

Marquette’s Education School is featured on the basis of a couple of particularly stupid statements in a document supporting its accreditation.
The teacher education program at Marquette University in Milwaukee proclaims that it “has a commitment to social justice in schools and society” and to using education “to transcend the negative effects of the dominant culture.” It requires that all education degree candidates demonstrate a “desire to work for social justice, particularly in an urban environment.”
We’ve blogged about bias in Marquette’s Education School before, and students we know have complained about the tendentious nature of introductory education courses.

Some of the most hair-raising accounts in the article, happily, don’t come from Marquette. For example:
Brooklyn College and Washington State University, according to recent published reports, have denied students the right to become teachers after they ran afoul of their ed schools’ social justice dispositions requirements. Then there’s the notorious case of Steve Head, a 50-year-old Silicon Valley software engineer who decided to make a career switch a few years ago and obtain a high school math teaching credential. In a rational world, Head would be the poster boy for the federal government’s new initiatives to recruit more math and science teachers for our high schools.

Head was smoothly completing all his math-related course work at taxpayer-supported San Jose State University. Then in the fall of 2003, he enrolled in the required “Social, Philosophical, and Multicultural Foundations of Education,” taught by Helen Kress, whose main scholarly interest appears to be “critical whiteness studies,” a noxious branch of critical race theory that posits that white racial identity is a socially constructed characteristic and must be confronted and purged to overcome America’s institutionalized system of white supremacy. The foundations course functions as a sort of military checkpoint to guarantee that every student who passes through toward a teaching credential has properly imbibed the pedagogies of multiculturalism, critical race theory, feminism, and, of course, social justice teaching.

The easy way out would have been for Head to spew back the expected answers on racial and gender oppression and move on, as most traditional-minded education students do. But something about Steve Head—a Christian and a libertarian—made him gag at the big lies and logical absurdities about American race relations and immigration issues that he was being asked to regurgitate. So he turned the tables and deconstructed the hegemony of anti-Americanism in the classroom.

In a sworn legal document, Head recounted that when his professor showed the class a videotape purporting to reveal institutional racism against immigrants, he responded by suggesting that most immigrants actually came here because they realized they would be better off, including benefiting from healthier race relations. Professor Kress responded that anyone holding such opinions was clearly “unfit to teach.” Head further infuriated the professor by suggesting that the class be allowed to read black social scientists like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams to provide some intellectual balance on the issues of race and education.

After turning down Kress’s offer to reeducate him on these issues personally, Head received an F for the class, even though a grade below B for a student who has completed all assignments is almost as rare in ed schools as serious intellectual debate. The school wouldn’t let Head enroll in the student teaching class, and so, for the time being, it has blocked him from getting his teaching certificate. After exhausting his appeals to the university, he filed suit earlier this year, charging that the school was applying a political litmus test to become a teacher and had violated his First Amendment rights.
Professors like Kress, of course, constantly use rhetoric about “diversity.” But a diversity of viewpoints and opinions is the last thing they want. Rather, they view higher education as a sort of Stalinist reeducation camp.

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