John Leo

The cultural left has a new tool for enforcing political conformity in schools of education. It is called dispositions theory, and it was set forth five years ago by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education: Future teachers should be judged by their "knowledge, skills, and dispositions." What are "dispositions"? NCATE's prose made clear that they are the beliefs and attitudes that guide a teacher toward a moral stance. That sounds harmless enough, but it opened a door to reject teaching candidates on the basis of thoughts and beliefs. In 2002, NCATE said that an education school may require a commitment to social justice. William Damon, a professor of education at Stanford, wrote last month that education schools "have been given unbounded power over what candidates may think and do, what they may believe and value."
 
NCATE vehemently denies that it is imposing groupthink, but the ed schools, essentially a liberal monoculture, use dispositions theory to require support for diversity and a culturally left agenda, including opposition to what the schools sometimes call "institutional racism, classism, and heterosexism." Predictably, some students concluded that thought control would make classroom dissent dangerous. A few students rebelled when a teacher at Brooklyn College School of Education showed Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9/11 in class and dismissed "white English" as "the language of oppressors." Five students filed written complaints and received no formal reply from the college. One was told to leave the school and take an equivalent course at a community college. Two of the complaining students were then accused of plagiarism and marked down one letter grade. The two were refused permission to bring a witness, a tape recorder, or a lawyer to meet with a dean to discuss the matter.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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