Our Journal Topics in the News

Election Renews Controversy Over Social-Justice Teaching

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
Education Week, Vol. 28, Issue 10, Pages 1,12-13
Published Online: October 28, 2008
Published in Print: October 29, 2008

Democracy not being taught in schools

Lorraine Kasprisin
Bellingham Herald, Saturday, September 20, 2008

While Sarah Palin's comments on Barack Obama's work as community organizer have been described as a "put down," a racist remark and a laughable moment, I believe the true import of her comment has gone unnoticed.

I believe her comment reflected a more profound misunderstanding of the nature of democracy. It is a misunderstanding that, unfortunately, has been perpetuated in the public schools and reflects the impoverished view of the role of public schools in sustaining the life of a democracy.

It is not a course in civic education on the structure of the government that will turn out public citizens. It is the constant renewal of democratic life from the bottom that will sustain and revitalize the republic.

Think about the insignificant amount of time spent on understanding the rich labor history of our country in our schools. Think about the lost opportunities of using art and literature to nourish the social imagination that makes public life meaningful and understandable. Think about the forms of adult education like the Highlander experiment that made Rosa Parks' actions possible.

We do not really school as if democracy matters in this nation. And that is the undiscussable part of Sarah Palin's glib comment.

Racial Balance is Long Gone in Seattle Schools

Published Online: June 3, 2008 Education Week
By The Associated Press

Jonathan Kozol's response to the U.S.Supreme Court Decision in the NY Times

OPINION | July 11, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor: Transferring Up
By Jonathan Kozol
Justice Anthony Kennedy opened up a new avenue for educational justice by contending that other methods of achieving integration are constitutionally permissible.

Ex-Ballard principal says court ruling "fired me up again"

By Linda Shaw
Seattle Times education reporter
June 30, 2007

The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog
October 24, 2007:

Teacher-Education Accreditor Formally Drops Social-Justice Language

The board of the nation’s largest organization accrediting teacher-education programs has formally voted to drop controversial language about social justice from its standards for evaluating teacher-education programs.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education had been criticized by some students — and by conservative activists — for suggesting that teacher-preparation programs evaluate students’ professional “dispositions” by considering students’ “beliefs and attitudes such as caring, fairness, honesty and responsibility, and social justice.”

The concept of social justice, opponents said, had been used by institutions to weed out would-be teachers based on their social and political beliefs. Several teacher candidates had complained about education professors who seemed more interested in students’ political views than in their classroom performance (The Chronicle, December 16, 2005).

The accreditor first announced in the summer of 2006 that it would eliminate social justice from its recommendation for how teacher-education programs could evaluate students (The Chronicle, June 16, 2006). Now its board has formally voted to do so, said Jane Liebrand, a spokeswoman for the organization.

Under a new definition in the glossary of its standards, the accreditor says it expects institutions to assess students’ “professional dispositions” by considering students’ sense of “fairness and the belief that all students can learn.” - Robin Wilson