“Social Justice” Removed from NCATE Standards, But Freedom of Conscience Issues Remain
October 26, 2007
by Adam Kissel
federal law requires that no child be left behind. Social justice demands that we take appropriate action to fulfill these promises by assuring high quality education for all children.
That is, “social justice” actually means, in the NCATE context, ensuring high-quality education for all children—it’s that simple. NCATE does not mean, at least not explicitly, to base accreditation in any way on the wide range of social change activism that social justice activists often seek (take the University of Massachusetts Social Justice Education
program as an example).
This looks like a step in the right direction. There are still some vague standards, however, in Standard 4
. For instance, working from the premise that all students can (and should) learn is not the same thing as requiring that programs “develop a classroom and school climate that values diversity,” or that programs show “[a]ffirmation of the value of diversity … through good-faith efforts to increase or maintain faculty diversity.” Further, to achieve NCATE’s diversity goals still “requires educators who can reflect multicultural and global perspectives.”
Nonetheless, removing “social justice” as an explicit example of how commitment to diversity should be expressed is a step, however small, toward freedom of conscience in teacher education programs.