Everybody is familiar with the vulgar Marxism in which race is substituted for class. In one form or another, it is ubiquitous in the academy, though its racism pervades every form. It has given rise to stultifying orthodoxies in doctrine, governance and curriculum.
The University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development is the foremost institution through which primary and secondary school teachers are licensed to teach in the state. In her Star Tribune column last week our friend Katherine Kersten blew the whistle on it. Kersten exposed a particularly vicious brand of the academy’s vulgar Marxism at the College of Education in its Teacher Education Redesign Initiative.
The initiative is a multiyear project to change the the way future teachers are trained at the College of Education. Addressing the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group’s contribution to the initiative, Kersten argued that the initiative sought to require the ideological indoctrination of future teachers using patented techniques of reeducation made famous outside Minnesota. The Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group’s contribution to the initiative is set forth in this report.
The title of the core section of the report is “What Successful Beginning Teachers Need to Know & How to Assess and How to Teach Them.” The first point is: “Future teachers will understand themselves as beings who position themselves and are positioned by others in relation to dimensions of differences (racial, social class, gender), and other hierarchies in school and society.” Other key points include include:
1. The College of Education and Human Development’s proposed “teacher education redesign” plan would require students to adopt “race, culture, class and gender” identity politics in order to be recommended for a teaching license.
2. The rationale given is that teachers’ lack of “cultural competence” is a major reason that many minority students perform poorly in Minnesota schools.
3. The plan includes 14 “outcomes” all prospective teachers would have to meet, as well as “assessment” methods to assure they had achieved the outcomes. The first outcome is typical: “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.”
Other highlights from the report deserve attention:
“Future teachers will understand that they are privileged & marginalized depending on context.”
“Future teachers will recognize & demonstrate understanding of white privilege.”
“Future teachers are able to explain how institutional racism works in schools”
“Our future teachers will be able to construct and articulate a sophisticated and nuanced critical analysis of [the American Dream]…. In pursuing this analysis, students will make use of…the following:
o Myth of meritocracy in the United States
o Historical connections between scientific racism, intelligence testing, and assumptions of fixed mental capacity….
o History of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values
o History of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology
4. In assessments, students are evaluated and graded on whether they conform to the “race, class, gender” agenda. They must, for example, write a “self-discovery paper” in which they “describe their own ethno-cultural background.” They must describe their own prejudices and stereotypes, question their “cultural” motives for wishing to become teachers, and take two “cultural intelligence”-type assessments. They are graded (for example) on “the extent to which they find intrinsic satisfaction” in “cross-cultural interactions.”
One assessment activity reads as follows:
“Autoethnography should reflect appreciation for how dominant pedagogical styles, school curricula, behavioral expectations, personal prejudices of school personnel…often convey overt and covert messages that devalue the culture, heritage, and identity of minority students.”
5. Students must not only demonstrate changed thinking — they must become activists. They must learn that schools are “critical sites for social and cultural transformation.” One outcome reads: “Future teachers create & fight for social justice even if it’s just in their classroom”
To say the least, the program contemplated by the initiative’s Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group’s report reveals an authoritarian mindset. Not only are future teachers required to subscribe to the prescribed ideology, so are the teachers who supervise their practice teaching in the public schools. (These teachers must endure “required training/worshop”[s] “around issues of race, class, culture, and gender.)
This is to be a comprehensive program, including the College of Education faculty — mandatory “professional development” sessions are planned for them. According to the report: “Every faculty member at our university that [sic] trains our teachers must comprehend and commit to the centrality of race, class, culture, and gender issues in teaching and learning, and consequently, frame their teaching and course foci accordingly.”
In addition, the College of Education plans to change criteria for admission in order to ensure that future teachers show the proper “attitudes” and “dispositions.” A proposal seeking funding from the Bush Foundation states that, in January, the College of Education will be making “recommendations for assessing initial licensure candidates’ professional commitments/dispositions as a criteria [sic] for admission.”
Jean Quam is dean of the College of Education. On Friday the Star Tribune published Quam’s vacuous if revealing nonresponse to Kersten’s column. Quam avoids the points Kersten made. She neither attempts to refute them nor to address Kersten’s evidence.
Among the straw men set up by Quam is her assertion that Kersten’s “position is that discussion of [issues of race, class, culture and gender] equates to indoctrination.” Those who read Kersten’s column will easily see the falsity of this assertion, but we are grateful for Dean Quam’s demonstration of the ethics she brings to the public discussion of the issues Kersten disputes, and for Quam’s inadvertent corroboration of Kersten’s indictment.
FOOTNOTE: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks a letter addressing these issues on November 25. Minnesotans in particular may want to follow FIRE’s example.