Thought Police in Schools of Social Work
Lawyers at the Alliance Defense Fund have filed a complaint in federal district court on behalf of a former Missouri State University student who says that the university punished her for failing to take part in a class assignment that went against her beliefs as a Christian.In the comments posted in response to this article, one poster suggested that “critical thinking skills” might be promoted by requiring that a student write a statement contrary to his or her own political views.
Emily Brooker, who graduated from the university’s School of Social Work last spring, took issue with a project in which students were asked to draft and individually sign a letter to Missouri legislators that supported the right of gay people to be foster parents, according to the complaint.
The assignment was eventually shelved, but the complaint says officials in the social work school charged Brooker with the highest-level grievance for not following guidelines on diversity, interpersonal skills and professional behavior. According to the complaint, during a hearing before an ethics committee, faculty members asked Brooker: “Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners? Do you think I am a sinner?” and questioned whether she could assist gay men and women as a professional social worker.
David French, a senior legal counsel with the ADF and the director of their Center for Academic Freedom, says the class assignment was more than a case of political role-playing — it amounted to a restriction of students’ free speech, he said.
“A person was forced to publicly state a position on a hot-button cultural issue to her own government that she disagrees with. You can’t get a more fundamental violation of the First Amendment than that,” French said. “[Brooker] objected, and then she was subject to investigation and punishment.”
Brooker, who began at Missouri State in 2002, took a required welfare policy and services class in spring 2005 taught by Frank G. Kauffman, an assistant professor of social work. During the class, the complaint alleges that Kauffman stated that he is a “liberal” and that social work is a “liberal profession.”
Brooker took another course with Kauffman in the fall. As part of a social work advocacy project, Brooker joined a group that planned to focus on homelessness. But according to the complaint, after a class visit from a gay advocacy group, Kauffman suggested that the whole class work on the letter-writing project supporting the right of gay people to be foster parents.
Brooker told the professor that she was happy to learn about the topic, but that — along with other students — was uncomfortable signing the letter because of her religious convictions, the complaint says. Kauffman allowed Brooker to write and sign a letter on an alternative subject, and the original project was later thrown out, according to the complaint.
About a month later, Brooker received notification that she had violated School of Social Work standards. In December, before an ethics committee, Kauffman said that Brooker “resisted instruction,” the complaint says. Brooker said faculty members told her that her values coflicted with those articulated by a national social workers’ association.
And indeed law school students are often required to do exactly this. And some liberal law school students are objected when required to write briefs contrary to the “gay rights.”
The problem is that this particular professor isn’t promoting some “critical thinking” agenda, he’s using students to promote his own pet political cause.
Promoting critical thinking might involve randomly assigning students to opposite positions on the issue. Or it might involve requiring both liberal and conservative students to write statements contrary to their views.
But Frank G. Kauffman wouldn’t think of doing that.
Equally silly is asking “Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners?” and questioning whether a Christian could help homosexuals.
The politically correct types in social work schools would never think of asking a leftist student “Do you think business executives are evil?” and questioning whether a leftist could help business people.
The politically correct types in social work schools would never think of asking a feminist student “Do you think men are the oppressor class?” and questioning whether she could help men.
This case is very similiar (indeed almost identical) to one at the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College, in which a student was threatened with punishment if he failed to lobby the state legislature for liberal policies with which he disagreed.
Like schools of education, social work schools have convinced themselves they have the right to indoctrinate students, and punish those who resist brainwashing.