Monday, February 14, 2005

Totalitarian shadows

Will left-wing views become a requirement for teacher certification?

The National Association of Scholars reports a frightening trend of thought control in ed schools. What qualifies NCATE to be an accrediting outfit?


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Ill Disposed
K.C. Johnson, Brooklyn College–CUNY

Over the last decade, a new requirement has emerged in teacher-training programs around the country. According to the standards outlined by the National Council for Accreditation in Teacher Education (NCATE), prospective teachers must possess the "knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn." We can easily identify "knowledge" and "skills." But what exactly is "dispositions" theory? And why should people outside of the Education establishment be very much concerned about it?

In its 2000 statement of standards, NCATE defined dispositions as "the values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence behaviors towards students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development as well as the educator's own professional growth." By 2002, the national accrediting agency was also mentioning a new definition: requiring would-be teachers to hold a prescribed set of beliefs on issues that the education school or department deems important -- such as a commitment to diversity or social justice.

"For example," the accrediting agency's 2002 assessment document noted, if an education department has "indicated that a commitment to social justice is one disposition it expects of teachers who can become agents of change, then it is expected that unit assessments include some measure of a candidate's commitment to social justice."

To repeat: the national accrediting agency for education schools and departments has said that it's acceptable for prospective public school teachers to be evaluated on the basis of their political beliefs.


Stiles said...

Isn't the corresondent stretching the meaning of "definition" quite a bit? I look at the NCATE unit standards and the glossary definition is

"Dispositions. The values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families,
colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development as well as the educator’s own
professional growth. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty,
responsibility, and social justice. For example, they might include a belief that all students can learn, a vision of
high and challenging standards, or a commitment to a safe and supportive learning environment."

Yes, the term social justice is included. But who would object to the example statement provided?

As I read the assessment document, NCATE is stating the obvious. If a department has identified a program criteria, it should be prepared to assess it. It doesn't read to me as an recommendation to have a litmus test.

The problem isn't NCATE, which is only trying to advance the expectation that ed schools assess their stated objectives. Any criticism should fall on institutions that have dispositions criteria that are essentially ideological litmus tests.

Linda said...

Sorry, I disagree with that comment. Once you let the gateway people start making those decisions based on the touchy-feely stuff, it becomes to fight an unfavorable decision.

I once took one of those idiotic online teacher "insight" assessments. The question that took me out of the running was one that asked if it could ever be OK to fail a student.

I said, essentially, Hell, yes (OK, not in those words). My reasoning, which I took some time to explain, was that, sometimes, failure can be a good thing (Oops, I sound too much like Martha S), particularly when it is used to provide a reality check on an inflated self-ego, or as a natural consequence of a student's not putting effort in learning.

Life is like that. Sometimes, people need the shock of failure to realize that the course they are pursuing is not working. After the fall, they can be helped to pick themselves up and start again.

In fact, studies have found that when students honestly believe that they will fail a grade if they fail a test, they have higher pass rates.

It was the "wrong" answer - the touchy-feely types wanted me to say that NO CHILD should ever fail.

Instructivist said...

While digging around I came across this article.

It looks like the NEA and NCATE are working hand in glove to push a leftist agenda:

Accreditation and teacher training is governed by two innocuous sounding groups, the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. But these entities have sought to weaken the traditional curriculum and, in partnership with the NEA, stress issues such as diversity, equity, and social justice.[42] During its 1999 convention in sunny Orlando, Florida, the NEA resolved to work with NCATE to strengthen teacher preparation programs to include an understanding of the history of teacher unions, as well as incorporating the principles of collective bargaining, organizing, and the importance of union activism.[43] Ironically, when it comes to mastery of subject material, the NEA, via NCATE, expresses more concern for promoting students' "self discovery" than teaching proven learning techniques.[44]
As J.E. Stone of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation explains, "Unlike NCATE, parents and policymakers want academic matters, not social engineering, to be teaching's top priority. They believe that schooling should, first and foremost, equip students with basics such as a broad fund of knowledge, high aspirations for achievement, and a sense of personal responsibility."[45] Still, without regard for parents, the NEA has endeavored to make NCATE standards the law of the land. Currently, the NEA is imploring its local chapters to draft collective bargaining language requiring schools to hire only teachers who are NCATE accredited. As a result, twenty-two of the nation's top fifty education universities have already adopted NCATE's politically correct standards.[46]