Monday, June 05, 2006

NCATE under pressure 

FIRE is pressing the Department of Education to investigate the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for its reliance on 'dispositions' criteria for teaching candidates.
NCATE maintains a set of official standards on the basis of which it decides whether or not to accredit an education program. The standards require that candidates in an education program �demonstrate the content, pedagogical, and professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to help all students learn.� NCATE�s standards state that dispositions �are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice.� The standards also require students and faculty in an education program to demonstrate a commitment to �diversity.�

��Social justice� and �diversity� are vague and politically loaded terms that mean different things to different people,� Lukianoff stated. �NCATE�s suggestion that it is appropriate to judge prospective teachers based on their commitment to these nebulous ideals is an invitation to discriminate against teacher candidates with dissenting views.�
The National Association of Scholars has joined in the argument:
By giving them the government's imprimatur, departmental recognition of NCATE standards turns these abuses into impermissible First Amendment violations. Only two remedies are available to remove the resultant constitutional exposure. Either NCATE must eliminate "social justice" from its evaluation protocols, or the Department of Education must withdraw recognition from NCATE.
We've reported on dispositions theory here and here.