Sunday, February 05, 2006

Schools of Reeducation?

Schools of Reeducation?:

Ed Swan is pursuing a degree in teacher education at Washington State. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that he flunked an evaluation of dispositions last year. The teacher who failed him explained that Swan, a conservative Christian and father of four Mexican American children, had 'revealed opinions that have caused me great concern in the areas of race, gender, sexual orientation and privilege.' Washington State insisted that Swan agree to attend sensitivity training before being allowed to do his student teaching -- where observers could observe his classroom performance"

"Professors at Washington State University's College of Education evaluate candidates to ensure they exhibit 'an understanding of the complexities of race, power, gender, class, sexual orientation, and privilege in American society.' The relevance of these skills to teaching algebra or the second grade is, at a minimum, debatable.

Brooklyn College's School of Education announces: 'We educate teacher candidates and other school personnel about issues of social injustice such as institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism; and invite them to develop strategies and practices that challenge [such] biases.'

One can sympathize with the sentiments at work. Moreover, in theory, academics can argue that merely addressing these issues implies no ideological bias. But in practice, education courses addressing 'white privilege' and the 'language of oppression' typically endorse particular views on issues such as affirmative action and student discipline. These codes have real consequences.