One of the criticisms teachers unions and other government-schooling factotums level against private schools that accept voucher students is that in many cases they hire teachers who are not state-certified or licensed. In truth, that is one of the great strengths of independent schools. They can employ teachers who have not had to undergo the left-wing indoctrination that is all too common in the state certification mills known as “schools of education.”
Ed-schools long have been the butt of jokes for their low standards and insipid instruction about arcane education theory. They have earned that derision. However, the more substantive criticism is the extent to which many of the leading ed-schools seek to instill a collectivist mindset in the idealistic young people who enroll simply because of their wish to be excellent teachers of K–12 students.
If a scholar wanted to know why socialism is so rapidly infecting the body politic in the United States, education in general would be a starting point, but schools of education should quickly become the laser focus. After all, they train the vast majority of the teachers to whom parents entrust their children across the country.
In a richly detailed new study for the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Jay Schalin acknowledges that even 100 years ago, during ed-schools’ formative phase, “progressive educators set out to transform the nation into one that was based on social science theories, collectivism, and central planning.”
After investigating how politicized ed-schools now have become, Schalin’s main conclusion is “schools of education may very well be radicalized beyond anything imagined by the early progressives.”
One of Schalin’s methods of research was to exam 290 syllabi from three nationally renowned ed-schools—those of the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin—and tabulate the most frequently assigned authors. He found a drastic tilt to the far left.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most assigned thinkers was a progenitor of education progressivism, John Dewey, an avowed socialist who returned from a tour of an iron-fisted Soviet Union gushing praise for what he witnessed there. The thoughts of Dewey on such topics as project-based learning are staples of professional education conferences.
Yet, Dewey ranked just a notch below another ed-school cult figure, Brazilian Marxist Paolo Freire, in the list of ed-school-favored ideologues. (Freire ranked third; Dewey was tied for fourth.) When I attended sessions of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) as an investigative reporter several years ago, I found hundreds of teacher-educators and classroom teachers reciting the theories of the author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed as though they were incontrovertible. Educators pay lip service to critical thinking but practice it with regard to leftist dogma hardly at all.
At the top of the list of most-assigned authors is University of Wisconsin Academic Affairs Vice Chancellor Gloria Ladson-Billings, whose works were big favorites at NAME. Among her favorite causes are “culturally relevant pedagogy” and “critical race theory.” She has publicly urged educators to “align” their scholarship with Marcus Garvey’s “race first!” philosophy, and she has praised the concept of reparations for past racial injustices.
Teacher indoctrination doesn’t just come off the bookshelves. Since 1990, NAME has taken it on the road to politicized workshops for teachers far from their home districts. (Up next is Tucson, November 6–10.) Here is a sampling of workshop topics at NAME conferences I attended: “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Dismantling White Privilege and Supporting Anti-Racist Education in Our Classrooms and Schools”; “Preparing White Middle-Class Pre-Service Teachers to Become Proactive Change Agents Who Teach for Social Justice”; and “Unpacking Religious Oppression and Christian Privilege.”
In 2006, in Phoenix, I came to understand the end game by listening to the “father of multiculturalism,” University of Washington professor James A. Banks, expound on being a social-justice warrior in “contested lands around the world.” Banks proposed scrapping citizenship (so much for civics) in favor of “cosmopolitanism,” which he defined as “allegiance to the worldwide community of human beings,” a commitment “to humanity, not a nation.”
In an ensuing discussion, I realized and wrote that radical multiculturalists deem the United States itself as very much a contested land—one “from which they hope to diminish if not purge European-based culture through a mixture of open-borders immigration, encouragement of minority resistance to assimilation, and guilt-inducing indoctrination of the children of the old ‘oppressive’ American culture, and their teachers.”
And yet we consent to our elected representatives funding such hotbeds of radical indoctrination. Why? And we send our children to government schools heavily influenced by collectivist dogma and hatred for American ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Why?