John Leo, a writer for the U.S. News and World Report, has an article in the 10/24/05 issue titled “Class(room) Warriors.” He writes about the cultural left trying to enforce political conformity in schools of education. It’s called “disposition theory” and in effect it works like this: education schools have the unbounded power over what teaching candidates may think or do, what they may believe and value. The rules in certain offices of higher education are that all teachers would be judged by “their knowledge, skills and dispositions.” What are dispositions? This edict was imposed by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
The NCATE vehemently denies that is imposing groupthink, but the ed schools, essentially a liberal monoculture, use the “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 to the classroom, a tape recorder, or a lawyer to meet with a den to discuss the matter.
A history professor who defended the dissenting students became a target himself when he wrote an article attacking “dispositions” as a form of mind control. He then faced a possible investigation by an Integrity Committee. Yes these communistic occurrences do happen in the U.S. Enter Philadelphia based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a national civil liberties group that does what the ACLU should be doing but usually won’t. FIRE said that “Brooklyn College must confirm that it tolerates dissent, that it is not conducting secret investigations of its own professors.” FIRE says the college has “disavowed any secret investigations.”
The article goes on to detail other cases and concludes that you should say what you think ( I suspect within reason) in class and if the administration moves against you, give FIRE a call.
As a parent, I advise you to not send a child to a college or university, unless you know that the faculty presents and allows free discussion on events, past and present and allows dissent or contrary views. Colleges faculties should teach kids how to think; not what to think. Most kids figure it out but some believe in what the liberal left tries to force them to believe. Some professors are subtle in their approach to “indoctrinating” some of their “moonstruck” students. These are the ones who end up in all kind of marches of protest or do stupid actions like burning the American flag. Most eventually become good citizens in spite of their college education. I did.
For those of you with a conservative bent, I highly recommend Hillsdale University, a small school of higher education in Hillsdale, Michigan. Hillsdale is a private school that does not accept any government money.