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Document Type

Article in Response to Controversy

Abstract

Dispositional aims are found in many teacher education programs and they embrace numerous laudable ideals. These ideals often stand for a wide variety of goals and tend to be abstract in nature, which may make them vulnerable to attacks. For example, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (Shibley, 2005) criticized teacher education programs for liberal bias and imposing a politicized litmus test for pre-service teachers. This was largely due to the amorphous dispositional goals containing social justice language and because many dispositional goals, as high inference constructs, are largely left to the discretion of teacher educators. If teacher educators are predominantly liberal, as Shibley suggests, then dispositions can act as a vehicle to advance political and ideological agendas. George Will’s Newsweek piece (2006, January 16) also criticized an umbrella of dispositional statements in teacher education programs. Specifically, he found problematic any aim of promoting “social justice,” or preparing pre-service teachers to be change agents who “recognize individual and institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism,” “break silences,” and “develop anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist community [sic] and alliances” (p. 98). In sum, Will called for teacher education programs to focus on content knowledge as the programmatic anchor rather than on developing teachers who are capable of transforming societal inequities or promoting components of a particular political ideology. Given the growing surge in criticism over the perceived political overtones, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) decided to drop social justice language from accreditation standards (Wasley, 2006, June 6).

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