• September 1, 2014

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

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