John Leo

In 1997, the National Association of Social Work (NASW) altered its ethics code, ruling that all social workers must promote social justice "from local to global level." This call for mandatory advocacy raised the question: what kind of political action did the highly liberal field of social work have in mind? The answer wasn't long in coming. The Council on Social Work Education, the national accreditor of social work education programs, says candidates must fight "oppression," and sees American society as pervaded by the "global interconnections of oppression." Now aspiring social workers must commit themselves, usually in writing, to a culturally left agenda, often including diversity programs, state-sponsored redistribution of income, and a readiness to combat heterosexism, ableism, and classism.

This was all too much for the National Association of Scholars. The NAS has just released a six-month study of social work education, examining the ten largest programs at public universities for which information was available. The report, "The Scandal of Social Work," says these programs "have lost sight of the difference between instruction and indoctrination to a scandalous extent. They have, for the most part, adopted an official ideological line, closing off debate on many questions that serious students of public policy would admit to be open to the play of contending viewpoints."

Nine of the ten programs, the NAS reports, require students to accept the ideology-saturated NASW code of ethics to get a degree in social work. The University of Central Florida says students "must comply" with the code of ethics if they wish to remain in school. Failure to accept the code constitutes "academic misconduct" in the University of Michigan program and "can result in disciplinary action" at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.

"Diversity/multiculturalism" and "oppression" were among the most common themes in coursework. The report notes, "Although it's certainly true that racism has been oppressive in American history, it seems question-begging to assume that ‘oppression' is a leading cause of poverty in the modern U.S. And it is far from clear that the only pathway to a non-racist or egalitarian society passes through the gateway or multiculturalism."


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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