Education Departments have a Disposition for Bias, writes K.C. Johnson, Brooklyn College history professor. Dozens of education programs require that would-be teachers demonstrate their commitment to social justice.
Traditionally, prospective teachers needed to demonstrate knowledge of their subject field and mastery of essential educational skills. In recent years, however, an amorphous third criterion called “dispositions” has emerged. As one conference devoted to the concept explained, using this standard would produce “teachers who possess knowledge and discernment of what is good or virtuous.” Advocates leave ideologically one-sided education departments to determine “what is good or virtuous” in the world.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s 2002 guidelines tell education programs “that listed social justice as a goal to ‘include some measure of a candidate’s commitment to social justice’ when evaluating the ‘dispositions’ of their students.”
At Brooklyn College, undergraduates must take “Language and Literacy Development in Secondary Education.”
According to numerous students, the course’s instructor demanded that they recognize “white English” as the “oppressors’ language.” Without explanation, the class spent its session before Election Day screening Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. When several students complained to the professor about the course’s politicized content, they were informed that their previous education had left them “brainwashed” on matters relating to race and social justice.
In Only the Red Know Brooklyn, Roger Simon comments on Johnson’s article and links to a New York Sun editorial which observes that Brooklyn College’s sociology department has elected Timothy Shortell as its chairman.
Readers of these columns may recall that Mr. Shortell was in the news back in 2003 for having written and published an article asserting that “those who are religious are incapable of moral action” and describing the faithful as “moral retards.” Wrote Mr. Shortell, “Can there be any doubt that humanity would be better off without religion? Everyone who appreciates the good, the true and the beautiful has a duty to challenge this social poison at every opportunity. It is not enough to be irreligious; we must use our critique to expose religion for what it is: sanctimonious nonsense.”
Shortell will be influencing hiring decisions, ensuring that no “moral retards” receive tenure.
Surely, the problem in preparing teachers is not a matter of “disposition.” Most would-be teachers are good people with good intentions. Building knowledge and teaching skill is the challenge.