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Teaching the teachers to be politically correct


How do we get politically correct students and schools?  We get them by churning out politically correct teachers from teacher colleges and teacher credentialing programs which filter the teaching of education through the lens of political correctness. 
A recent article in Minnesota's Star Tribune by Katherine Kersten brought to light the type of teacher education being pushed at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus.   A group called the Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group at the University’s College of Education and Human Development came out with new recommendations for teacher education classes.  Evidently, according to them, teachers coming out of the University system did not possess the proper "cultural competence" which contributes to  the poor academic showing of minority students in the state.  Katherine Kersten writes:
The task group recommends, for example, that prospective teachers be required to prepare an "autoethnography" report. They must describe their own prejudices and stereotypes, question their "cultural" motives for wishing to become teachers, and take a "cultural intelligence" assessment designed to ferret out their latent racism, classism and other "isms." They "earn points" for "demonstrating the ability to be self-critical."
The task group opens its report with a model for officially approved confessional statements: "As an Anglo teacher, I struggle to quiet voices from my own farm family, echoing as always from some unstated standard. ... How can we untangle our own deeply entrenched assumptions?"
The goal of these exercises, in the task group's words, is to ensure that "future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression."
The focus of teacher education has changed from how to teach to how to be politically correct.  The Minnesota example is just a current mirroring of what started a while back in states like California. 
California's Chapman University (the author of this article got her teacher credential from Chapman) is one of many colleges which provide year-long teacher credentialing certification to many future teachers.  Back in the late 1990s, Chapman's teacher credentialing program included many of the following class titles: Institution of Education, Literacy in the 21st Century, Teaching/Learning in the Elementary Classroom, and Collaboration in Inclusive Schools.  There was only one required class specifically focusing on political correctness -- it was titled Voice, Diversity, Equity,  and Social Justice. 

Now, Chapman University requires many of the following class titles: Literacy and Learning: Elementary Reading, Foundations of Education,Teaching and Learning in the Culturally Diverse Classroom I, Teaching and Learning in the Culturally Diverse Classroom II, Teaching and Learning in the Culturally Diverse Classroom III, and Voice, Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice.  At Chapman, many of the classes that teach future teachers how to teach are also being taught through the lens of political correctness.

In a press release in October of this year, U.S. Secretary of Education's Arne Duncan stated, “By almost any standard, many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom.  America’s university-based teacher preparation programs need revolutionary change--not evolutionary tinkering.”  The press release goes on to assert that "Teacher-preparation programs should ensure that new teachers will master the content of the subjects they’ll teach..."

Mastery of the content of the subjects teachers will be teaching can only happen when that goal is paramount and the driving force behind the curricula at teacher colleges.  However, when political correctness is held in higher esteem and given more instruction time in teacher colleges in places like Minnesota and California, mastery of the content of the subjects teachers will only be of secondary importance.  

For more info:   See Oregon's Department of Education website, Cultural Competence: Coming To a School Near You?, UI to promote diversity skills with certificate program


  • V. 5 years ago

    It's really pitiful, but this was never an issue during my public school education. The political sciences teachers made a point of playing all sides during discussions. One could never guess their political preference and they were respectful/capable of teaching a diverse student body without being inappropriate to anyone. I never felt they were being PC, rather they were challenging us to think on different levels.

    As a result, I never thought of this as an issue until junior college. A "professor" frequently made inappropriate remarks despite the fact that a roomful of rainbow colored students with diverse backgrounds paid her salary. She lamented the fact that she struggled to pay for school while her Indian friend got scholarships and complained in general that scholarships were available to minorities like "Eskimos" (Inuit was the proper word at the time.) but not her.

    Sadly, some idiots like her probably need several PC classes before they attempt to teach.

  • Bridgette 5 years ago

    V, it just sounds like she shouldn't have been a teacher, I'm sure that was the least of her issues.

  • Jim 5 years ago

    Why didn't Cardinal Torquemada think of this way of compelling confession in the Spanish Inquisiton. He could have just asked people to write an essay confessing their sins, then denied work to people whose essays didn't please him. Then the confessions would have pleased him.
    I am sure the puritan liberals of Minnesota will compel only genuine confessions of conservative witch-craft.
    Remember U of Minn, if they float they are conservative, and if they sink they are a racist.

  • Don 5 years ago

    Dear Ms. Wallis, Thank you for your thoughts. I do wish to point out a couple misconceptions in your thinking however. First, California is nearly half non-white, many of whom are first or second generation, yet most teachers are white. Having, inherent to teacher education courses, curriculum that assures that our future teachers are equipped to provide quality education to all students, seems to me, to be a prudent move. And, not at all a useless exercise in political correctness as you suggest. Developing teachers to optimize, maybe even maximize, the test scores of students is very important. Equally important, especially in this 21st century world, is developing critical thinkers and good citizens who care about the people around them, and who are capable of making this an even better world.

  • Bridgette 5 years ago

    Don, since I am from California and I taught there for over 7 years, I am aware of the demographics. However, we've been going the cultural understanding route OVER substance/content route since at least the 1960s and it doesn't seem to be leading to our students doing better in any respect. We owe our kids something much more than what they're getting now.