Monday, March 24, 2008

NCATE's Words Are Obfuscating Crap

I've written before about NCATE, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Usually I blast them for their views on so-called social justice and their preference for having prospective teachers with certain (left-leaning) "dispositions".

This post is no different.

In this post from almost 2 years ago I wrote about how, under pressure from FIRE, among other groups, NCATE backed off on the "dispositions" and "commitment to social justice" requirements in teacher education programs. Political litmus tests for teachers should be a non-starter, but we can always count on our friends on the left to force their views on others.

So NCATE backed off and was going to rewrite their standards. How well do you think they did? Take a look at their web site and judge for yourself.

Now that you've done that, I'll tell you what I think.

Some of the specific so-called social justice criteria are gone, but this remaining one makes me laugh:

demonstrate fairness in educational settings by meeting the educational needs of all students in a caring, non-discriminatory, and equitable manner

Really? Would that include color-blindness, you NCATE race mongers? Because that's what it sounds like, and I'm sure that's not what you mean. Why do I believe that? Because of the very next item in your list:

understand the impact of discrimination based on race, class, gender, disability/exceptionality, sexual orientation, and language on students and their learning

Who do they think is performing this discrimination, I wonder? I'll bet it's conservative white teachers.

You've got to love their (very defensive sounding) explanation about social justice:

NCATE’s Executive Board has clarified its definition of ‘professional dispositions’ as used within the NCATE accreditation system, and has issued a call to action to ensure that all children are taught by well prepared teachers.

NCATE has given particular attention to clarifying its expectations concerning "professional dispositions" in its definition of "dispositions" which had listed "social justice" as one illustrative example of a professional disposition, among others such as fairness and honesty. NCATE has never required a ‘social justice’ disposition; NCATE expects institutions to select professional dispositions they would like to see in the teachers they prepare. The term ‘social justice,’ though well understood by NCATE's institutions (you know what we're looking for, nod nod, wink wink), was widely and wildly misinterpreted by commentators not familiar with the workings of NCATE (those stupid conservatives). NCATE has never had a ‘social justice’ standard and thus did not enforce such a standard. When a draft of the 2008 Standards did not include the example of "social justice" in the glossary definition, NCATE was incorrectly accused by some of caving into pressure to eliminate a standard that it never had, and by others of abandoning its commitment to that non-existent standard. The glossary change was made in order to clarify for all what NCATE's expectations are and are not. (boldface and snarky commentary is mine--Darren)

In other words, they still worship at the altar of so-called social justice, still expect you to recognize and celebrate diversity as long as you do so with a leftie bent, and expect you, the potential teacher, to accept their views on so-called social justice. They just don't want to say so up front.

So what's changed between now and June 2006? Only the calendar. And some more obfuscating language.


Anonymous said...


Maybe you or one or you more astute readers could help me out here. Either define or point me to a definition of “social justice”, in plain English please.

In their list of standards for professional education they include this requirement, “operationalize the belief that all students can learn”. Plain English please, what does this mean? Does this recognize that not all of us have the same capacity, skills or intellect? How do we recognize when the elevator has reached the top floor?

The NCATE goes on to say, “We recognize the existence of an unacceptable achievement gap based on race, ethnicity, disability/exceptionality and socioeconomic status. The gap is exacerbated by some children being assigned well-prepared teachers and other children being assigned unprepared and under-prepared teachers. Closing the achievement gap requires that all children be educated by teachers and other professional personnel who meet rigorous professional standards.” Ummm, this must not be a problem in the City of Chicago Public schools, poorest performing in the state, because they haven’t fired a teacher in years.

And one last observation on this requirement, ‘demonstrate fairness in educational settings by meeting the educational needs of all students in a caring, non-discriminatory, and equitable manner”. How does one measure and evaluate “caring”. Could it be like pornography as described by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (slightly paraphrasing), “it can’t be described but you’ll know it when you see it?”


Anonymous said...

So, it is a leftist bent to see that kids may well get discriminated against due to (for instance) their sexuality? Sorry, but that is just a basic fact of life, gay kids get picked on, and as teachers, we need to stop that as best we can.
If you think that is "leftist" then you have a very strange idea about what the word means.

Darren said...

Donalbain, I'm sure it's much easier for you to believe that I'm stupid, ignorant, homophobic, racist, and everything else. Give me a little more credit, be reasonable, or don't come here.

Darren said...

This is a good start for you.

Darren said...

If keeping gay kids from being bullied was the *only* goal of so-called social justice, I'd be all for it. But it's not.