After being required to attend a showing of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” and hearing “white English” dismissed as “the language of the oppressors,” several future teachers at the Brooklyn College School of Education rebelled.
They were informed that they lacked the right “disposition.”
Well, I would have been in a bad mood, too.
But that’s not quite what the contemporary educational establishment means when it speaks of “dispositions.”
Columnist John Leo explains:
“The cultural left has a new tool for enforcing political conformity in schools of education. It is called dispositions theory, and it was set forth five years ago by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education: Future teachers should be judged by their ‘knowledge, skills, and dispositions.’
“What are ‘dispositions’? NCATE’s prose made clear that they are the beliefs and attitudes that guide a teacher toward a moral stance. That sounds harmless enough, but it opened a door to reject teaching candidates on the basis of thoughts and beliefs. In 2002, NCATE said that an education school may require a commitment to social justice. William Damon, a professor of education at Stanford, wrote last month that education schools ‘have been given unbounded power over what candidates may think and do, what they may believe and value.'”
Demonstrating that you should always fight back when a bully attacks, FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has been successful in defending several aspiring teachers who have been accused of having the wrong dispositions. Edward Swan, for example, failed four “profession disposition evaluations.” His sin? Apparently, it had something to do with opposition to affirmative action and gay adoption.
Swan isn’t FIRE’s only success:
“K. C. Johnson, a history professor at the school who defended the dissenting students, became a target himself. After writing an article in Inside Higher Ed attacking dispositions theory as a form of mind control, Johnson faced a possible investigation by a faculty Integrity Committee. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education entered the case on Johnson’s behalf, accusing the college of viewpoint discrimination and a violation of academic freedom. FIRE is a national civil liberties group that does what the American Civil Liberties Union should be doing but usually won’t. FIRE said: ‘Brooklyn College must confirm that it tolerates dissent, that it is not conducting another secret investigation of one of its own professors.’ FIRE says the college has ‘disavowed any secret investigation.'”
Maybe we should launch an investigation to determine how well reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic are taught. But not a secret one.