Education

Bill Ayers, Teachers, and Social Justice

By Anthony Rebora — May 02, 2008 1 min read

A must read over on edweek.org: Eduwonkette examines controversy surrounding social justice teaching in education schools, and elicits reponses in defense from Bill Ayers—yes, that Bill Ayers—and in opposition from Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute. Some samples:

Eduwonkette:

In short, it’s not clear that “social justice teaching” is a coherent and distinctive pedagogy that’s taught at schools of education across the country . It’s also worth noting that teachers are relatively conservative. If education schools have been engaged in an active project to disseminate social justice teaching, they largely have been unsuccessful.

Ayers:

Practically all schools want their students to study hard, stay away from drugs, do their homework, and so on. In fact none of these features distinguishes schools in the old Soviet Union or fascist Germany from schools in a democracy. But in a democracy one would expect something more—a commitment to free inquiry, questioning, and participation; a push for access and equity; a curriculum that encouraged free thought and independent judgment; a standard of full recognition of the humanity of each individual. In other words, social justice.

Stern:

So it seems to me that the question isn’t precisely how widespread social justice teaching is right now (although more studies would be welcome) but rather what public school leaders – state education commissioners, teachers union leaders and district superintendents – might do to make sure that intrusion of left wing or right wing political ideology into the classroom doesn’t spread any further. We need a professional code of ethics for teachers, a Hippocratic Oath if you will, that makes clear that our public school classrooms are not laboratories for social and political change, with the kids serving as guinea pigs.

But read the whole thing.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.