University of Minnesota demanding political allegiance for educators?

posted at 2:20 pm on November 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Katherine Kersten wonders when dissent became so unpatriotic — and when universities began demanding ideological purity as a prerequisite to attaining a degree.  The University of Minnesota will apparently demand that its education graduates, the future teachers of Minnesota, confess to their own bigotry if they believe in the American dream of equal opportunity as a means to cleanse the Minnesota education system of cultural biases.  It sounds like a page out of communist show trials:

The task group is part of the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative, a multiyear project to change the way future teachers are trained at the U’s flagship campus. The initiative is premised, in part, on the conviction that Minnesota teachers’ lack of “cultural competence” contributes to the poor academic performance of the state’s minority students. Last spring, it charged the task group with coming up with recommendations to change this. In January, planners will review the recommendations and decide how to proceed.

The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the “overarching framework” for all teaching courses at the U. It calls for evaluating future teachers in both coursework and practice teaching based on their willingness to fall into ideological lockstep.

The first step toward “cultural competence,” says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize — and confess — their own bigotry. Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China’s Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi.

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.”

It sounds as though they “earn points” for obsequiously affirming the political biases of the university’s education professors. What’s the point of all these confessions?

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.”

Future teachers must also recognize and denounce the fundamental injustices at the heart of American society, says the task group. From a historical perspective, they must “understand that … many groups are typically not included” within America’s “celebrated cultural identity,” and that “such exclusion is frequently a result of dissimilarities in power and influence.” In particular, aspiring teachers must be able “to explain how institutional racism works in schools.”

Isn’t the point of teaching to actually teach?  As in, mathematics, reading, and science?  Instead of focusing primarily on educating Minnesota youth, UM wants to indoctrinate teachers into becoming community organizers.  After all, what else are we to conclude when the university states that the biggest priorities in elementary education aren’t illiteracy and scientific ignorance but “heteronormativity,” “hegemonic masculinity,” and “internalized oppression”?

That last example is high irony indeed.  Want to see “internalized oppression”?  This program gives a very good example of it, with its demand of ideological purity as a prerequisite to earning a teaching degree.   The fact that the program’s advocates can’t see the irony of their proposal speaks volumes about Academia in general, and the people in charge of the education program at the University of Minnesota.

With Minnesota students needing teachers who can teach useful skills rather than navel-gazing concepts such as “heteronormativity,” how about we give the political correctness a rest and encourage rather than discourage young men and women to enter the classrooms?   Put aside the Chomsky and Ayers political Kool-Aid, and stick to education.   The only agenda that should be in place is competence.


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Comments

… Preparing to be a teacher should be through on-the-job training with a competent teacher supervising the work of the trainee.

chemman on November 23, 2009 at 3:18 PM

That, my friend, is a dying breed. I can’t remember hearing about a “competent” teacher for many years. There are certainly not enough out there to mentor all the incompetents coming to join them.

PaCadle on November 23, 2009 at 8:35 PM

Katherine Kersten wonders when dissent became so unpatriotic — and when universities began demanding ideological purity as a prerequisite to attaining a degree.

The dissent thing is easy. 1/20/09. We were preached even by so-called conservatives and blog hosts that we couldn’t be critical of the new regime. In fairness we had to give them a chance. I called it treason then to demand unquestioning loyalty to a President based on nothing more than skin color and I feel vindicated in knowing I was right and all the “Obama isn’t so bad” fair weather conservatives were exposed for what they are.

It wasn’t overnight. Dissent became unpopular during the elections. The Dems squelched dissent by accusations of racism and the GOP squelched dissent by claiming we all needed to ignore the obvious and adore McCain without criticism. Nevertheless, dissent died the day the filthy lying coward took office and you all know that it is true.

As to ideological purity in academia, I’d say that happened sometime in the 1990s. My realization occurred when I was sitting through a business ethics class where a woman went unchallenged by the professor when she did a 20-minute sexual harassment presentation where she constantly refered to the victim as “her” and the harasser as “he” without any sort of suggestion that the opposite situation was even remotely possible. It was followed by a 20-minute Equal Opportunity presentation where I learned that white people were evil and blacks should be ruling the earth- again unchallenged by the professor.

highhopes on November 23, 2009 at 8:48 PM

That, my friend, is a dying breed. I can’t remember hearing about a “competent” teacher for many years. There are certainly not enough out there to mentor all the incompetents coming to join them.

PaCadle on November 23, 2009 at 8:35 PM

My experience includes the understanding that teaching is much more a waypoint than it was in the past. There are far fewer seasoned teachers to be mentors and a good number of the competent teachers get burned out in a few years and go on to a “real job” reinforcing the adage about what those who can’t do.

highhopes on November 23, 2009 at 8:52 PM

What the article describes is bad enough but how about the comments to the article? They are just as disturbing. At least half of them are endorsing the lunacy being proposed and slandering the author without using argumentation of any kind. Are people in Minnesota actually this insane? I guess the answer to that is “Al Franken.”

When a large part of the population is saying ‘yes’ to policies that would make Pol Pot proud, we are in deep, deep s—.

Django on November 23, 2009 at 9:06 PM

So what will they be teaching the white heterosexual male students, that they are more evil than Darth Vader and that they should go kill themselves to restore balance to the universe?

This is why my kids go to private school.

ExcessivelyDiverted on November 23, 2009 at 9:07 PM

So if you are white and male just forget about becoming a teacher or be prepared to oppress yourself in front of your students indefinitely. We shouldn’t be surprised by any of this though in MN.

Alfresco on November 23, 2009 at 9:47 PM

The schools of education in this country are a farce and a disgrace. Basically they are diploma mills & an expensive racket which makes huge amounts from warm body counts. Its “professors” & grad students fill whole library floors with garbage publications (often with six or more co-authors per worthless paper) while decade after decade the quality of American public education – as shown by standardized tests – stays among the lowest in the world.

IMO the best that could happen for public education is the closing of all standard “schools of education” leaving education requirements and leadership up to actual scholars in the various traditional fields. Furthermore, education professors should be kept away from children.

Chessplayer on November 23, 2009 at 9:49 PM

I am so glad my daughter chose St. Thomas over the UofM!
She’s now a third year student majoring in business law.

This father couldn’t be more proud of his beautiful,intelligent,Conservative daughter!

shiftwalker on November 23, 2009 at 10:11 PM

This article needs to reach the “light of day”. Ideas like this usually thrive better in darkness. Wonder what Bill Cosby would think of this..?

scruplesrx on November 23, 2009 at 10:30 PM

America, your days are numbered.

Tzetzes on November 23, 2009 at 10:31 PM

We’ve seen this sort of thing before

Graduate student Scott McConnell handed in an assignment in which he described his ideal classroom — environment which involved “strong discipline and hard work” and which included “corporal punishment.” Though he did well on the assignment, he was summarily dismissed two months later by the Education Department chair, despite his “excellent” evaluation for class work. She cited a “mismatch between [his] personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals.” FIRE wrote to the Le Moyne College president, urging him to honor the College’s commitments to academic freedom and due process. When Le Moyne declined to do so, FIRE went public with the case. McConnell filed suit, aided by the Center for Individual rights, and the case eventually went to the Supreme Court of New York’s Appellate Division, which found in favor of the student. Since McConnell fulfilled the standards laid out for him, the court said, McConnell was a fully matriculated student and Le Moyne was therefore wrong to dismiss him without due process.

J_Crater on November 23, 2009 at 11:26 PM

When I became a teacher one of the basic concepts stressed to us was that our political and social views had no place in the classroom. The reason is simple “Every student should feel safe with in a school”. That is the reason that a principal can review a student newspaper or program to insure that it does not cause any student not to feel safe and secure within the school.

When I taught 2-4 grades, politics and sexual orientations were not part of what I taught or the children wanted to learn. Not all my students sexually innocents either ,but it was not something they were interested in. What they were interested in was what children are interested in; learning how to do things like writing, reading, math, science and discovery, music and being creative in art. Some might say that not all kids were interested in those things, but that is were I came in. My being there was to help them find a way to be interested, to discover something new, or feel success instead of failure and being a part of the class in their own way. I was very successful, a lead teacher that others came to watch. What my children did not get from me was my political opinions or sexual politically correct information that some PHD’s (Piled High and Deep) thought small adults should know.

I also taught High School both as a regular social studies teacher and a special education teacher. I never let my students know my political standings on anything or opinion of sexual topics. I put myself in a position where I am not a judge on an issue, but rather person who they could safely confide in and expect honest answers reflected from their questions. I guided my students into being better more confident students and successful adults after graduation.

That schools and education today has become so polarizing, political, and pushing alternative life styles is frightening but understandable. There are those with social and political agenda’s that they know they must indoctrinate the children with when they are young. Cigarette companies understood this. They held the position that they must have brand recognition of children by age 5 to insure enough smokers to replace those that quit or died off. Jesuits knew that if they indoctrinated a child that by age six he would be a Christian for life. Fidel Castro and Germany understand that children must be indoctrinated to insure that they become proper citizens for their government. No Home schooling allowed.

It is not that hard to achieve the goals of a socialist society. The new teachers are being programmed to accept the those goals. Administrators are usually clueless as to what goes on in the classrooms but they need something to make it look like they are doing something that improves education. All it takes is a slick willi presenting a new program to an administrator who will buy it. Once bought, no matter how bad it is, they will force teachers to use it. There is hope of change at the local level; the possibility at the state level, but at the federal level we can only expect it to get worse and we have never been disappointed. One of the things a new teacher will discover and it looks like even before they are certified to teach, is that the student is at the bottom or what is important to those that hire them.

Franklyn on November 24, 2009 at 12:46 AM

No, education ceased to teach and started INDOCTRINATING about 40 years ago.

The “public option” in education is all about creating perfect robot citizens for the statist “progressive” fascist socialist worker’s paradise.

I still think this emphasis on “math and science” crap is the wrong thing to do. You can’t learn math and science and do any good with it unless you have a mastery of, oh, HISTORY. As in learning from the mistakes of the past so they don’t get repeated. It’s rather hard for math and science to do any good when society doesn’t learn from it’s own mistakes (ie: socialism) and evolves.

wildcat84 on November 24, 2009 at 12:51 AM

If the Govermental american educational system has proved to be so damn efficient, why the continuing illiteracy?

For that matter, where is Big Pharma in this debate on “Health Reform (ulation)”? Where’s the money gone from all the Googillions of dollars that have been donated/collected/granted for “THE CURE” – from A to Z?

[I love you El Rushbo, but, you are not working from a clean deck here.]

To continue. All the money we’ve spent on the poore has got us where? What? Speak up! The poore will always be among us.

Let’s consider (imagine ALL the people) what a country with no dependence on foreign oil or pharmaceuticals, accurate text books and exceptional teachers to present the facts therein coupled to a fair tax would provide us all. Our nation would be rich beyond belief and gold would be $100 an ounce. We’ll rule!

To accomplish any of the foregoing, we must of necessity throw off the yokes of subservience.

Let’s consider Life, Liberty and all that Jazz.

OkieDoc on November 24, 2009 at 2:34 AM

Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China’s Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi.

Or the Spanish Inquisition!

DSchoen on November 24, 2009 at 3:20 AM


And the internment camps of WW II?

Or the Spanish Inquisition!

DSchoen on November 24, 2009 at 3:20 AM

Or the gulags of the KGB?
You would be wise to round up all Middle Easterners and place them in “protective custody”.

Hey, I’m just tryin’ to help.

OkieDoc on November 24, 2009 at 3:44 AM

When I became a teacher one of the basic concepts stressed to us was that our political and social views had no place in the classroom. The reason is simple “Every student should feel safe with in a school”. That is the reason that a principal can review a student newspaper or program to insure that it does not cause any student not to feel safe and secure within the school.
When I taught 2-4 grades, politics and sexual orientations were not part of what I taught or the children wanted to learn. Not all my students sexually innocents either ,but it was not something they were interested in. What they were interested in was what children are interested in; learning how to do things like writing, reading, math, science and discovery, music and being creative in art. Some might say that not all kids were interested in those things, but that is were I came in. My being there was to help them find a way to be interested, to discover something new, or feel success instead of failure and being a part of the class in their own way. I was very successful, a lead teacher that others came to watch. What my children did not get from me was my political opinions or sexual politically correct information that some PHD’s (Piled High and Deep) thought small adults should know.
I also taught High School both as a regular social studies teacher and a special education teacher. I never let my students know my political standings on anything or opinion of sexual topics. I put myself in a position where I am not a judge on an issue, but rather person who they could safely confide in and expect honest answers reflected from their questions. I guided my students into being better more confident students and successful adults after graduation.
That schools and education today has become so polarizing, political, and pushing alternative life styles is frightening but understandable. There are those with social and political agenda’s that they know they must indoctrinate the children with when they are young. Cigarette companies understood this. They held the position that they must have brand recognition of children by age 5 to insure enough smokers to replace those that quit or died off. Jesuits knew that if they indoctrinated a child that by age six he would be a Christian for life. Fidel Castro and Germany understand that children must be indoctrinated to insure that they become proper citizens for their government. No Home schooling allowed.
It is not that hard to achieve the goals of a socialist society. The new teachers are being programmed to accept the those goals. Administrators are usually clueless as to what goes on in the classrooms but they need something to make it look like they are doing something that improves education. All it takes is a slick willi presenting a new program to an administrator who will buy it. Once bought, no matter how bad it is, they will force teachers to use it. There is hope of change at the local level; the possibility at the state level, but at the federal level we can only expect it to get worse and we have never been disappointed. One of the things a new teacher will discover and it looks like even before they are certified to teach, is that the student is at the bottom or what is important to those that hire them.

RAAACIST!!!!!!!

erakis on November 24, 2009 at 5:28 AM

Too blind to consider minority underperformance may indeed be influenced by the outmoded concept of “the soft bigotry of lowered expectations”? “I know how you’ve suffered young man/woman. Let me give you a hug and explain why calculus is plot to oppress the undertrodden invented by a privileged dead white guy.”

TubbyHubby on November 24, 2009 at 6:24 AM

RESISTENCE IS FUTILE

Become one with the Borg.

percysunshine on November 24, 2009 at 7:04 AM

Why would anyone be surprised? The cloak of deceit is at last off of the Godless Marxists and their techniques. They’ve had control of the key institutions of our fragily democratic society for decades – they just now feel secure enough in their success at propagandizing and dumbing down our citizens, to show us their real agenda. Any who haven’t seen the leftist educrats and media types indoctrinating our children, have themselves been successfully indoctrinated. Reason would warn that when the educational institutions stopped having the pursuit of truth as their number one goal, they substituted something else – the pursuit of deceit and anti-American propaganda, all done with the assistance of naive parents anx complicit politicians.

Your tax dollars at work for Uncle Lenin!

Don L on November 24, 2009 at 7:56 AM

Well…It seems defunding and abolishing the nea doesn’t go quitE far enough…
Gotta get rid of these buffoons….this is madness…and yes Ed, this drips of irony…

jerrytbg on November 24, 2009 at 8:09 AM

Are people in Minnesota actually this insane? I guess the answer to that is “Al Franken.”

When a large part of the population is saying ‘yes’ to policies that would make Pol Pot proud, we are in deep, deep s—.

Django on November 23, 2009 at 9:06 PM

The sad truth is…yes, a large majority of Minnesotans are infected with the liberal insanity gene; I know, I live here. Many still drive around with Wellstone bumper stickers on their clunkers and/or proudly display Wellstone political yard signs 365-days a year. Outside of Massachusetts, Minnesota is the leading socialist state in the lower 40. As for Kersten, she tends to bring out the same type of vile and hateful bile that Palin and Bachmann do…because they’re all right and the left can’t handle the truth, especially from conservative women.

Goldy1 on November 24, 2009 at 8:09 AM

There was a time, a few years back, when I was actually seriously thinking about moving to Minnesota.

I’m glad that didn’t pan out.

Cylor on November 24, 2009 at 8:20 AM

Anyone familiar with the reeducation camps of China’s Cultural Revolution will recognize the modus operandi.

Today we call it ‘progressivism’.

petefrt on November 24, 2009 at 8:40 AM

The sad truth is…yes, a large majority of Minnesotans are infected with the liberal insanity gene

Some family lives there. Haven’t seen them in 20+ years, but I know their political leanings because we have had rows about them in the past. “Liberal insanity gene” is 100% accurate. Emphasis on the insanity.

englishqueen01 on November 24, 2009 at 9:03 AM

By a pretty good margin, those with the lowest SAT scores, go into education.

And it shows.

MarkTheGreat on November 24, 2009 at 9:46 AM

As an academic with roots in the real world, I hate to see it formalized in this way, but unfortuantely the vast majority of academics have no concept of reality and are only impressed with their own version of “truth.” Orwell is alive in well in academia

georgeofthedesert on November 24, 2009 at 9:48 AM

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.

White Privilege: A form of racism that assumes all Caucasians have an inherent, undeserved advantage over every other race.

Hegemonic Masculinity: A form of sexism that assumes that any expression of natural male traits is a form of oppression. Being a masculine boy is a psychological disorder that must be cured through drugs and re-education.

Heteronormativity: A made up word that seeks to normalize homosexuality. Heterosexual relationships are to be considered no more desirable or “normal” than any other.

Internalized Oppression: A bigoted term that means if you are white, male or a member of any other disfavored group, you are hard wired to oppress everyone different than you. Your racism, sexism etc. is immutable, thereby making you irredeemable.

RadClown on November 24, 2009 at 9:50 AM

To all of you intellectual elitists out there. This is why I laugh at people who have college degrees and think they are all that. More often than not, they are not all that and are all that isn’t. Higher education is a joke and is worth only the extra money it can bring you but hardly worth the hoops you have to jump through to attain a sheepskin.

Holger on November 24, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Competence is measurable and can be used to determine employability, merit compensation, etc. In today’s NEA/union teaching environment, that cannot be allowed. I weep for the children.

SKYFOX on November 24, 2009 at 10:08 AM

Looks like Minnesota has set itself up for some lawsuits. There is something like 1 lawyer to every 200 people in this country some kind of ratio like that anyway. Imagine a Lawyer going after any deep pockets they sniff out. And making a reputation for themselves. How stupid are the people to set themselves up for lawsuits?

Dr Evil on November 24, 2009 at 10:46 AM

Ah, yes! A wider course curriculum: Basic Algebra–A Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans Perspective.

Liam on November 24, 2009 at 10:58 AM

By a pretty good margin, those with the lowest SAT scores, go into education.

And it shows.

MarkTheGreat on November 24, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Art History and Phys Ed majors laugh at these clowns.

True story: A friend of mine once subbed at a local high-school. When he got to class, he found a note from the regular teacher asking him to “phinish” chapter 7.

RadClown on November 24, 2009 at 11:05 AM

The initiative is premised, in part, on the conviction that Minnesota teachers’ lack of “cultural competence” contributes to the poor academic performance of the state’s minority students.

All minorities? Or just **certain** minorities?

In fact – the Vietnamese population that came to the Gulf States after the Vietnam war have now become some of the most successful people on the Gulf Coast. In Louisiana, scholastic scores for Vietnamese students are far above averages for even whites.

Sooo … I ask again …

Is it ALL minorities? Or just **certain** ones – you know, the ones that are always blaming their issues on “the system” – are we really talking about THOSE minorities???

Hmmmm?

HondaV65 on November 24, 2009 at 11:19 AM

That is one of the scariest things I’ve read in a long time. Beck is gonna have a field day with that one.

jonezee on November 24, 2009 at 11:27 AM

I sent my kid to private school. No, I couldn’t afford it, but it was important.

I worked in schools for a while, and they are almost like prisons in being training complexes for bad behavior and bad attitudes, and are so regulated that actual teaching time is continually reduced.

It’s not really the teachers’ fault, lots of teachers love kids and would like to really teach.

Education of your kid is too important to trust to ideologues.

jodetoad on November 24, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Looks like Minnesota has set itself up for some lawsuits. There is something like 1 lawyer to every 200 people in this country some kind of ratio like that anyway. Imagine a Lawyer going after any deep pockets they sniff out. And making a reputation for themselves. How stupid are the people to set themselves up for lawsuits?

Dr Evil on November 24, 2009 at 10:46 AM

I’m sure the ACLU will be all over it. *snort*

Firefly_76 on November 24, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Higher education is a joke and is worth only the extra money it can bring you but hardly worth the hoops you have to jump through to attain a sheepskin.

Holger on November 24, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Afraid you’ve only got the first part right.

Yes, it has pretty much become a joke. But without it, your chances of landing any job really worth having are almost zip.

A college degree has become the new HS diploma – the bare minimum to be considered for a position that isn’t minimum wage-slavery. That, and a new resurgence of spouting the right buzzwords, answering canned questions the ‘right’ way, oh and let’s not forget plenty of shoe-licking.

To top it all off the crumbling economy is making even all of the above pay off less and less. Young people are giving up on work and on their nation.

Dark-Star on November 24, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Thousands of little Oba-mao’s.

TrickyDick on November 24, 2009 at 1:38 PM

Vera on November 23, 2009 at 4:34 PM: Yes our politicians and educators see no unintended consequences. I argued with my Rep that the hate crime bill would divide America and cause racial problems. He could not understand my concern. When I lived in San Fran in the 1970’s I remember that the Chinese Americans were a protected group but the Japanese Americans were not. Heck, I had difficulty telling who was who, so who was discriminating against the Chinese? The Japanese?

amr on November 24, 2009 at 3:44 PM

You evil man woman!

LincolntheHun on November 23, 2009 at 2:46 PM

FIFY
I have been called worse!

Badger40 on November 24, 2009 at 5:24 PM

Keep up the fight.

chemman on November 23, 2009 at 3:15 PM

I’m trying, but after only 8 yrs, I’m getting pretty sick of the whining.

Then there were the parents who were CONVINCED that their little precious was brilliant and should have been making A’s in their class and it was all my fault that their darlings were failing. :PPPP

Kirin on November 23, 2009 at 6:28 PM

A good reason to make parents take the tests along with their little darlings!

Badger40 on November 24, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Preparing to be a teacher should be through on-the-job training with a competent teacher supervising the work of the trainee.

chemman on November 23, 2009 at 3:18 PM

This is a fantasy. Wish it really happened that way.
But you are assuming there are enough competent teachers out there to do this.
Teachy school prepares you for-JACK.
Most of it’s crap-but there is some value in a few of them.
It also depends upon the college you go to-I think Dickinson State at Dickinson ND has a really good teacher’s program. It didn’t seem liberally bent when I went through it.
Thank God I had a REAL scientific education before I got my teaching certification.
I can’t imagine trying to teach science by getting just ‘education’-type oriented science classes.

Badger40 on November 24, 2009 at 5:29 PM

“University of Minnesota demanding political allegiance for educators?”

How should I know? When reporting, shouldn’t you answer the question instead of ask it?

Kevin M on November 24, 2009 at 5:32 PM