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Document Type

Special Section

Theme

THE POLITICS OF "SOCIAL JUSTICE"

Abstract

Maybe it wouldn't bother us if we hadn't picked up tiny rotten teeth from our classroom floors in a toothfairyless neighborhood. Maybe it wouldn't seem as offensive if we hadn't watched our pupils gobble down free breakfasts and lunches—for some, their only meals five days a week. Perhaps we could overlook it if we didn't know about our students’ losses—a brother killed in a drive-by shooting, a grandmother’s grisly death dealt by a crack dealer, house fires that destroyed everything. Maybe it wouldn't incense us if our elementary pupils had had more up-to-date reference materials than 1952 dictionaries and a donated set of World Books, if we had had a school library or hot water or some playground equipment. And we probably wouldn't be as disgusted if we hadn't watched our pupils cry and vomit on high-stakes test days when they intuitively knew they couldn't pass a test because of their limited vocabularies and lack of prior knowledge—consequences of poverty and societal neglect (Johnson & Johnson, 2006). But disgusted we are because NCATE did not stand up for the children we recently taught. Why did the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) have such difficulty defining “social justice” that it has banished the term from its lexicon?

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