Educating the Educators in Social Justice Dogma

Virginia Commonwealth University campus

by James A. Bacon

I’ve been thinking about Jim Sherlock’s recent post, “Marxist Critical Theory and Education,” in which he asserts, “Marxist critical theory ideologues have taken over the Graduate Schools of Education.” In the post he explores the disturbing implications of the claim, but does not provide the evidence behind it. I would not be surprised in the slightest if the statement were true, particularly in the nation’s so-called “elite” institutions — the more elite the institution, the more leftist its orientation.

But I want to see the proof. As publisher of a Virginia blog, I want to know if schools and colleges of education here in Virginia have been taken over by leftist ideologues. I want to know the degree to which the next generation of Virginia teachers are being indoctrinated in leftist dogma.

What follows is an admittedly cursory survey based upon a scan of education school websites. I invite readers to dig deeper and contribute via comments or op-eds.

My quick, superficial finding is that most Virginia’s schools of education incorporate a commitment to inclusiveness, diversity and social justice to some degree. But they vary in the extent to which they seek to indoctrinate these values in their students. The Virginia Commonwealth University appears to be the most overtly ideological, explicitly committing itself to “eradicating structural and systemic racism.” At the other extreme, the emphasis at Virginia’s two historically black public universities appears to be educating students to become productive citizens, not to transform society.

Here follow highlights cribbed from the websites of Virginia’s schools of education.

Virginia Commonwealth University. Dean Andrew P. Daire prominently posts a statement on addressing systemic racism on the school’s website. Embracing the claim that the United States is afflicted by “ongoing, systemic, racist behavior against black people,” he declares that the school will support the anti-racist movement “with not just words, but actions.

We must ensure that … educators understand America’s history and the structural systems that uphold racism. We must ensure that our educators are aware of their own implicit biases, white fragility, racial innocence and colorblindness, and how these influence their actions, responses and interactions. We must ensure that our educators are prepared for meaningful conversation and teachable moments on race and racism. … We are not going to prepare successful educators who can have a positive impact in all communities unless we do more to help them understand and challenge the underlying structures that uphold racism in this country. We have to prepare anti-racist educators, leaders, and professionals.

We will continue to work toward better understanding implicit and institutional bias along with white fragility while we provide the opportunities for our school’s leadership to become anti-racist leaders.

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee will provide training and learning opportunities for our faculty and staff on these issues.

We will work toward rooting out and addressing implicit and institutional biases that exist in our school through .. evaluation processes, searches, salary inequities, etc.

College of Education at James Madison University.

The JMU school of education takes a global perspective on equity and justice. “As we commemorate our 100th year of service, the dehumanizing aspects of disease, malnourishment, poverty, bigotry, inequity and despair prevail in the lives of countless millions of the world’s inhabitants,” says the schools “Commitment to Diversity,signed by Dean Phil Wishon.

Our most important challenge as educators and leaders is to discover what we can do to help societies of the world who would transform themselves. … What can we do to encourage and help prepare members of future generations of leaders to dedicate themselves to nourish the human spirit and to combat inequities wherever they exist? Helping our students, our colleagues, and our collaborative partners acquire greater cultural and global competence and a sense of moral purpose related thereto is a place to start.

The moral challenge of this moment—the commemoration of our college’s 100th anniversary— is to affirm and advance a compassionate concept of education, of leadership, and of society.

Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia.

States the school’s home page: “At the Curry School, we believe that the study of equity, inclusion and race is an integral part of the study of education.” The school supports several research centers, labs and project “that are actively research how to address the needs of a culturally diverse society.”

One program, the Center for Race and Public Education in the South, “conducts and supports empirical research on a variety of issues that lie at the intersection of race, education, and schooling in the southern United States. … [The Center] illuminates the causes, consequences, and potential means of ameliorating disparities in African American youth’s [sic] experiences and achievement.”

Another project, “Teachers in the Movement,” conducts interviews with educators of different races and backgrounds regarding their participation in the Civil Rights movement. The purpose is to “bring their stories to light.”

A third project, Youth-Nex, focuses on promoting “effective youth development” by applying the science of Positive Youth Development to enhance the strengths of youth and to prevent developmental risk such as violence; physical and mental health issues; substance abuse and school failure. As program director Nancy L. Deutsch writes, “Youth development issues are social justice issues. Only through engaging and ensuring supportive developmental opportunities for all youth equitable can society advance.”

While Curry School programs appear to be informed by social justice values, and it can be reasonably assumed that professors and instructors will share and impart those values, the website does not indicate an explicit intention to indoctrinate students in a social-justice mindset.

George Mason College of Education and Human Development. The college website cites five core values: collaboration, ethical leadership, innovation, research-based practices, and social justice.

Social justice embodies essential principles of equity and access to all opportunities in society, in accordance with democratic principles and respect for all persons and points of view. We commit ourselves to promoting equity, opportunity, and social justice through the college’s operations and its missions related to teaching, research, and service.

In practice that means, “Students … are challenged to explore issues of poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, and gender and remain cognizant of the socio historical factors that may have resulted in systemic inequities in early care and education. … The program’s instructional format allows students to examine their biases.”

Longwood University College of Education & Human Services. Longwood’s website says this: “Founded upon cooperative relationships, socially responsible values and sensitivity to individuals and community needs, we produce professionals who promote student learning … community involvement [and] effective strategies that close the academic achievement and skills gap required to ethically serve people in a diverse society.”

Closing the racial gap in academic achievement is a worthy goal that most Virginians would endorse, especially if it is informed by identifying and applying best practices to improve the quality of instruction. Again, the question is what the vague rhetoric means in practice.

To get a sense of what is meant, see the backgrounder to a webinar given by Marsha Rutledge, assistant professor of counseling education, has to say:

As the re-imagining of schools, academic processes, and in-class experiences are being discussed across America because of COVID-19, now is the time to really begin dismantling inequities and systemic policies and procedures that have negatively impacted Black students and students of color.

We were able to provide for an open and honest conversation about systemic racism and how it shows up in schools. We were also able to share with our listeners the importance of social justice and advocacy work. … there are educators who are ready for change. … We must work hard to support our students AND school counselors of color through the issues that are plaguing our country, especially since there are several happening simultaneously. … The information shared can be used to open the door toward changing the narratives that are projected throughout the institutional structures currently in place across the United States.

College of William & Mary School of Education.

The school website emphasizes its commitment to teaching excellence and innovation. Here’s how the website describes the school’s commitment to equity and inclusion:

The faculty, staff, and students of the School of Education value inclusiveness and equity of opportunities for diverse learners. We promote attitudes and beliefs that foster faculty members’ and students’ understanding of self and diverse others through curriculum, instruction, research, and focused learning activities.  These values also guide our internal governance as well as our partnership with educational institutions and other community agencies.  Advocacy for diverse learners informs instructional, clinical, and policy decisions with the purpose of impacting our students and the constituents they will serve.

It’s difficult to interpret what such vague verbiage might mean when applied in practice.

Virginia Tech School of Education. From the school’s website: “The school promotes rigorous inquiry in all aspects of its teaching, research, and outreach, provides the leadership necessary to advance all educational systems, and engages in advocacy that ensures equity and accessibility to quality learning experiences for all members of a diverse and global community.”

The home page does not highlight any of the school’s “advocacy” but does link to a profile of Kirsten Gehsmann, the school’s new director. “I want our students to see themselves as agents of change,” says  Gehsmann. The story adds that she is “focused on equity along with innovation.”

An equity focus is mandatory in higher education today. But Gehsmann appears to be interested mainly in exploring the future of education. Says she: “Education is a field where things don’t just stay the same. They’re constantly evolving and changing, and I like to be on the cutting edge. As teacher educators, we need to focus on preparing our students to teach in schools we can only dream of today.”

Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University. The Darden web pages does not highlight any diversity/social justice initiatives. The university’s strategic plan emphasizes “research, teaching, and service activities that reflect our commitment to excellence, innovation and transformation.”  The vision, goals and objectives made no mention of social justice. (A squib on ODU President John R. Broderick, does describe him as “a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion.”)

University of Mary Washington College of Education. Although UMW has developed a niche as a small college for socially aware students, the College of Education website has nothing to say on the topic of social justice. A letter from Dean Pete Kelly merely describes a curriculum designed to meet the needs of all students, including English language learners and students with handicaps.

Norfolk State University. As a historically black university, Norfolk State University administrators apparently feel no need to reassure students of their commitment to diversity and social justice. The School of Education website mentions these purposes:

  • To contribute to the knowledge base in the field of educational theory and practice in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-racial world.
  • To provide leadership in involving public schools, universities and communities in collaborative educational efforts.
  • To provide service to other agencies engaged in education in such a manner to promote the realization of equal educational opportunity and equal educational results for all children.

Virginia State University.

As Virginia’s other historically black university, Virginia State University also sees no need to marinate itself in the rhetoric of diversity and social justice. The College of Education provides this mission statement:

Creating a positive learning environment for all students and using evidence-based performance standards to develop reflective practitioners are central to the College of Education’s mission. The College of Education promotes and maintains academic programs with research-based pedagogy, technology-based learning, and reflective practices that integrate service to the community, ever mindful of the students’ diverse cultural backgrounds. The College of Education is the Unit that prepares quality graduates who become productive members of the Local Community, the State of Virginia, and the Nation.

That last sentence bears repeating: The goal is to prepare graduates “to become productive members” of the community, the state and the nation — not to restructure society.

The University of Virginia-Wise. The education department at UVa-Wise, set in Wise County in far southwest Virginia, serves the overwhelmingly white demographic of central Appalachia. The Education Department website says nothing about equity or social justice, just preparing “future teachers to meet the needs of our children as they face an ever-increasingly complex world. “

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57 responses to “Educating the Educators in Social Justice Dogma”

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    The words “cutting edge” and “agents of change” frequently appear in the mission statements of institutions. Cutting Edge. A term that can mean to carve out something new to address a problem or to carve out the old or a little of both. What exactly needs carving and reshaping?

    Agents of change is another term to revise, reform, or dismantle old management processes to create a new management process to achieve a positive outcome. What is the ultimate outcome for agents of change?

    Looks like the mission is to eliminate inequities in society. To do so means to take from successful subgroups and redistribute to the less successful subgroups. But once this is done my question is this:

    When the former less successful subgroups gain the resources that were previously denied can they retain those resources that create success for a multi generational period of time?

    Will the former more successful subgroups simply reapply themselves in the new constructs to regain lost resources to retain/expand future success? Or will they simply accept that less is more?

    I believe competition is built into human beings. It cannot be undone.

  2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Jim says:
    “But I wanted to see the proof. As publisher of a Virginia blog, I want to know if schools and colleges of education here in Virginia have been taken over by leftist ideologues. I want to know the degree to which the next generation of Virginia teachers are being indoctrinated in leftist dogma.”

    I have discussed this subject in some depth many times on this blog. Here is only one of many such examples of my commentary, this particular one found below Bacon’s Rebellion Post dated December 29, 2019 titled “Politicizing Education in Fairfax Schools”:


    Because of your time spent laboring in the Belly of the Beast, you known what everyone else on this blog obviously does now fully understand and appreciate, namely the ongoing sustained, highly organized and intentional brainwashing of our children’s political opinions by the nations public schools. This operation has deep pervasive operational roots going back for some 20 years now. Its leftist progressive ideology and agenda is ever more refined and tightly woven each year, and it is increasingly popping up all over the nation. On its present course this will no doubt destroy our Republic that can work only with competent citizens who are educated to think for themselves, not be politicized as children into blind true believers under the boot and domination of there political leftist masters, as if China.

    This threat is extensively discussed in a 274 page study released this month by the National Association of Scholars. It’s frightening what has been going on under our noses, within Academia.

    Below I have copied in portions of the Precis, and Executive Summary of that study titled Social Justice Education in America.


    In the last twenty years a body of “social justice educators” has come to power in American higher education. These professors and administrators are transforming higher education into advocacy for progressive politics. They also work to reserve higher education jobs for social justice advocates, and to train more social justice advocates for careers in nonprofit organizations, K–12 education, and social work.

    Social Justice Education in America draws upon a close examination of 60 colleges and universities to show how social justice educators have taken over higher education.

    The report includes recommendations on how to prevent colleges and universities from substituting activism for learning.

    Executive Summary:

    American universities have drifted from the political center for fifty years and more. By now scarcely any conservatives or moderates remain, and most of them are approaching retirement. The radical establishment triumphed on campus a generation ago.

    What they have created since is an even more disturbing successor to the progressive academy of the 1990s. In the last twenty years, a generation of academics and administrators has emerged that is no longer satisfied with using the forms of traditional scholarship to teach progressive thought.

    This new generation seeks to transform higher education itself into an engine of progressive political advocacy, subjecting students to courses that are nothing more than practical training in progressive activism. This new generation bases its teaching and research on the ideology of social justice.

    The concept of social justice originated in nineteenth-century Catholic thought, but it has become secular and progressive in Twenty-First-century America. Justice traditionally judges freely chosen individual acts, but social justice judges how far the distribution of economic and social benefits among social groups departs from how they “ought” to be distributed. Practically, social justice also justifies the exercise of the state’s coercive power to distribute “fairly” goods that include education, employment, housing, income, health care, leisure, a pleasant environment, political power, property, social recognition, and wealth.

    What we may call radical social justice theory, which dominates higher education, adds to broader social justice theory the belief that society is divided into social identity groups defined by categories such as class, race, and gender; that any “unfair distribution” of goods among these groups is oppression; and that oppression can only—and must—be removed by a coalition of “marginalized” identity groups working to radically transform politics, society, and culture to eliminate privilege.

    A rough, incomplete catalogue of the social justice movement’s political goals includes increased federal and state taxation; increased minimum wage; increased environmental regulation; increased government health care spending and regulation; restrictions on free speech; restrictions on due process protections; maximizing the number of legislative districts that will elect racial minorities; support for the Black Lives Matter movement; mass release of criminals from prison; decriminalizing drugs; ending enforcement of our immigration laws; amnesty for illegal aliens; open borders; race and sex preferences in education and employment; persecution of conscientious objectors to homosexuality; advocacy for “transgender rights”; support for the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement; avowal of a right to abortion; and mob violence to enforce the social justice policy agenda.

    Social justice advocates’ emphasis on words such as justice, equity, rights, and impact all register social justice’s fundamental goal of acquiring governmental power. Social justice advocates tend to dedicate any activity in which they engage to the effort to achieve the political ends of social justice.

    Activism is the exemplary means to forward social justice. This word signifies the collective exertion of influence via social justice nonprofit organizations. Activism may take the form of organization-building (staff work, fundraising, membership recruitment), publicity, lobbying, and actions by responsible officials in pursuit of social justice. It may also take the form of “protest”—assembling large numbers of people on the streets to “persuade” responsible officials into executing the preferred policies of social justice advocates. Social justice activism formally eschews violence, but far too many social justice advocates are willing to engage in all “necessary” violence.

    Social justice activists in the university are subordinating higher education toward the goal of achieving social justice. Social justice education takes the entire set of social justice beliefs as the predicate for education, in every discipline from accounting to zoology. Social justice education rejects the idea that classes should aim at teaching a subject matter for its own sake, or seek to foster students’ ability to think, judge, and write as independent goods. Social justice education instead aims directly at creating effective social justice activists, ideally engaged during class in such activism. Social justice education transforms the very definitions of academic disciplines – first to permit the substitution of social justice activism for intellectual endeavor, and then to require it.

    Social justice educators define education as the practice of social justice activism. Experiential learning, which is vocational training in social justice activism, is the heart of social justice education. Other prominent elements include action learning, action research, action science, advocacy-oriented research, classroom action research, collaborative inquiry, community research, critical action research, emancipation research, participatory action research, and social justice research.

    Most colleges and universities today operate under tight fiscal constraints, which lead to dwindling numbers of tenure-track faculty jobs and allow expanding numbers of administrative jobs. These constraints shape the means by which social justice educators extend their influence. They focus on four broad strategic initiatives: 1) the alteration of university and department mission statements; 2) the seizure of internal graduation requirements; 3) the capture of disciplines or creation of pseudo-disciplines; and 4) the capture of the university administration.

    The first strategic initiative, alteration of mission statements, provides a wedge by which to pursue the latter three. Social justice educators pursue these other three initiatives with the practical goal to reserve as many jobs as possible for social justice advocates, particularly in higher education, K–12 education, and social work. The capture of the university administration, above all, gives social justice advocates a career track and the expectation of lifetime employment. Social justice advocates want to reserve for themselves all of the estimated 1.5 million American jobs for postsecondary teachers and administrators.

    Social justice advocates’ first goal is to incorporate social justice, or related words, into college and university mission statements. This social justice vocabulary sometimes serves as hollow words to fob on social justice advocates. Yet it also works as a promissory note for more detailed changes to impose social justice education. A social justice mission statement generally indicates that a higher education institute no longer really aims to educate students. It really aims at social justice activism, and it will only provide education that doesn’t conflict with social justice ideology. The ideal of social justice does not complement the ideal of education. The ideal of social justice replaces the ideal of education.

    Social justice advocates’ most important curricular tactic within higher education is to insert one or more social justice requirements into the general education requirements. They give these requirements different names, including Diversity, Experiential Learning, Sustainability, Global Studies, and, forthrightly, Social Justice.

    This tactic forces all college students to take at least one social justice course, and thereby maximizes the effect of social justice propaganda. The common practice
    of double counting a social justice requirement so that it also satisfies another requirement powerfully reinforces the effect of social justice requirements. These requirements also collectively reserve a large number of teaching jobs and tenure-track lines for social justice educators. No one but a social justice advocate, after all, is really qualified to teach a course in social justice advocacy. The direct financial burden of social justice general education requirements is at least $10 billion a year nationwide, and rising fast.

    Social justice advocates also have taken over or created a substantial portion of the academic departments in our universities. The departments most likely to advertise their commitment to social justice are those most central to the social justice educators’ ideological vision, political goals, and ambition for employment.

    The heaviest concentrations of social justice departments are the Identity Group Studies, Gender Studies, Peace Studies, and Sustainability Studies pseudo-disciplines; the career track departments of Education, Social Work, and Criminology; and the departments dedicated to activism such as Civic Engagement, Leadership, and Social Justice. Social justice takes over departments by incorporating social justice into their mission statements, inserting departmental requirements for social justice education, and dedicating as many elective courses as possible to social justice education. When social justice educators control departments entirely, they rapidly shift the definition of that discipline so that it requires social justice education. These changes make it practically impossible to study that discipline without embracing social justice.

    Social justice departments denominate their vocational training in activism as experiential learning—or related terms such as civic engagement, community engagement, fieldwork, internships, practica, and service-learning. Service-learning usually refers to relatively unpoliticized experiential learning, which habituates students to the basic forms and techniques of activism, while civic engagement usually refers to more avowedly political social justice activism. The term experiential learning disguises what is essentially vocational training in progressive activism by pretending that it is no different from an internship with an engineering firm. Many supposedly academic social justice courses also focus on readying students for experiential learning courses—and for a further career in social justice activism. Experiential learning courses are what particularly distinguishes social justice education from its progressive forebears.

    Experiential learning courses, dedicated outright to progressive activism, drop all pretense that teachers and students are engaged in the search for knowledge. Experiential learning is both a camouflaging euphemism and a marker of social justice education.

    While social justice education has made great strides among university professors, its dizziest success has been its takeover of the university administration. Higher education administration is now even more liberal than the professoriate. The training of higher education administrators, especially within the labyrinth of “co-curricular” bureaucracies, increasingly makes commitment to social justice an explicit or an implicit requirement. These administrators insert themselves into all aspects of student life, both outside and inside the classroom. Overwhelmingly, they exercise their power to promote social justice. Social justice administrators catechize students in social justice propaganda; select social justice advocates as outside speakers; funnel students to on-campus social justice organizations that benefit from free student labor; and provide jobs and money for social justice cadres among the student body. The formation of social justice bureaucracies also serves as an administrative stepping stone to the creation of social justice departments. Perhaps most importantly, university administration provides a career for students specializing in social justice advocacy.

    Higher education’s administrative bloat has facilitated the growth of social justice bureaucracies—among them, Offices of Diversity and Multicultural affairs; Title IX coordinators; Offices of First-Year Experience and Community Engagement; Offices of Student Life and Residential Life; Offices of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement; Offices of Equity and Inclusion; Offices of Sustainability and Social Justice; and miscellaneous institutes and centers. These bureaucracies focus on co-curricular activities, which consist largely of social justice activities such as Intersectionality Workshops and Social Justice Weekend Retreats. Social justice administrators aim to subordinate the curriculum to the co-curriculum, as the practical way to subordinate the pursuit of truth to social justice advocacy.” End Of Quote.

    For more of this important timely study see:

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead V

      I remember this exchange Mr. Reed. What is missing from today’s youth is the willingness to challenge the educational establishment. I always admired the Reverend Samuel Davies, who once preached during the 1st Great Awakening at Pole Green Church in Hanover County. His message was clear. Question authority. A young Patrick Henry heard these sermons and changed the course of history. Where are the Samuel Davies of modern times?

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        I think you may be objecting to them.

        Questioning authority is what has been happening for the past month in a big way.

    2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Above I posted the first roughly 60% of the Executive Summary of a 274 page study released by the National Association of Scholars titled Social Justice Education in America. Below see concluding paragraphs of the summary.

      “Social justice administrators have set up institutions that make social justice advocacy inescapable. Offices of Residential Life have turned large amounts of housing into venues for social justice advocacy. The most intensive advocacy proceeds through Living Learning Communities—housing units dedicated to themes such as Global Citizenship, Gender and Social Justice, and Social Justice Action.

      Bias Incident Response Teams, which rely on voluntary informers (“active bystanders”) throughout campus, dedicate themselves to gathering reports of “bias incidents”—which, practically speaking, can include any word or action that offends social justice advocates. Bias Incident Response Teams act as enforcers of social justice orthodoxy on campus. Break and Study Abroad programs have also been largely taken over by social justice advocates, and are now frequently exercises in service-learning and social justice advocacy. Offices of Residential Life subject students to social justice education even while they are eating and sleeping. Bias Incident Response Teams monitor every private social interaction, and Study Abroad and Break programs subject students to social justice education even while they are away from campus.

      The social justice bureaucracies sponsor a large number of social justice events on campus. These events are the actual substance of social justice education on campus. The varieties of social justice events include activism programs, commencements, community mobilizations, conferences, dialogues, festivities, films, fine arts performances, hunger banquets, lectures, projects, residence hall programs, resource fairs, retreats, round-tables, student education, student training, workshops, and youth activities.

      The subjects of such events have included activism, ally education, Black Lives Matter, civic engagement, community organizing, diversity, food, gender identity, health care, illegal aliens, implicit bias, leadership, LGBTQ, mental illness, policing, power, prisons, racial identity, social justice, and sustainability.

      The social justice bureaucracies also engage in large amounts of student training. This student training identifies, catechizes, and provides work experience for the next generation of social justice advocates. This student training is especially useful for training the next generation of social justice educators. By scholarships, the provision of student jobs, and linking social justice cadres to careers, social justice educators ensure that social justice education is linked to social justice jobs for graduates. The Diversity Peer Educator of today is the Dean of Diversity of tomorrow. Today’s Social Justice Scholar will become tomorrow’s Dean of Student Affairs. Student training provides the cadres for social justice activism.

      Social justice education, in addition, prepares students for positions in private industry (human resources, diversity associates), progressive nonprofit organizations, progressive political campaigns, progressive officials’ offices, government bureaucracies, K-12 education, social work, court personnel, and the professoriate.

      University administration and faculty directly provide a massive source of employment for social justice advocates: the total number of social justice advocates employed in higher education must be well above 100,000. Soon all of higher education may be reserved for social justice advocates, since university job advertisements have begun explicitly to require affirmations of diversity and social justice. These ideological loyalty oaths will effectively reserve higher education employment to the 8% of Americans who are progressive activists.

      Since social justice educators have to publish a minimum amount of peer-reviewed academic research to receive tenure, they have also created an apparatus of journal and book publication as cargo-cult scholarship—an imitation of the form of academic research, largely consisting of after-action reports on social justice activism on campus. The core of this cargo-cult apparatus is a network of hundreds of academic journals dedicated to social justice scholarship, whose editors and peer reviewers are also social justice educators. Their specializations mirror the range of social justice education—ethnic studies and gender studies, education journals and sustainability journals, journals devoted to critical studies, dialogue, diversity, equity, experiential education, inclusive education, intercultural communication, multicultural education, peace, service-learning, social inclusion — and, of course, social justice.

      The bureaucracy of accreditation plays an important role in forwarding social justice advocacy at America’s colleges and universities. Some accreditation bureaucracies require diversity, or other keywords that can be used to justify the creation of social justice requirements, programs, or assessments.

      Where accreditation bureaucracies do not explicitly require social justice advocacy, college bureaucrats often justify social justice advocacy as a way to fulfill other accreditation requirements. In both cases, social justice advocates within colleges and universities twist accreditation to advance their own agenda.

      Education reformers must disrupt higher education’s ability to provide stable careers for social justice advocates. These reforms cannot be aimed piecemeal at individual campuses. Social justice education is a national initiative, which has taken over entire disciplines and professions.

      Social justice’s capture of higher education must be opposed on a similarly national scale. Above all, the opposition must aim at cutting off the national sources of funding for social justice education. A priority should be to deny public tax dollars for social justice education.

      Nine general reforms would severely disrupt social justice education:

      1. eliminate experiential learning courses;

      2. remove social justice education from undergraduate general education requirements;

      3. remove social justice education from introductory college courses;

      4. remove social justice requirements from departments that provide employment credentials;

      5. remove social justice positions from higher education administration;

      6. restrict the power of social justice advocates in higher education administration;

      7. eliminate the “co-curriculum”;

      8. remove social justice requirements from higher education job advertisements; and

      9.remove social justice criteria from accreditation.

      Most importantly, college students must cease cooperating with social justice requirements. A mass, coordinated campaign of civil disobedience, in which students simply stop taking social justice classes, attending social justice events, or obeying social justice administrators, would deal a body-blow to social justice education.” End of Quote.

      For more see:

      1. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

        I am not familiar with NAS. I find the information provided inaccurate, over the top, and designed to inflame. It’s hard to select what to attempt to refute because most of it does not fit my experience.

        My initial interaction with experiential learning was as a 10-year old 4-H’er. Remember “learn by doing?” Being involved in real situations, learning about things different from those you’ve experienced, hands on vs just abstract, theoretical learning is more how I’d describe it.

        I am sure there are programs that seek to teach “activism” but most of the academics I know are so afraid of being viewed as being activist that they bend over backwards to avoid it – generally not even sharing their research knowledge when they really should. One of our struggles is getting researchers to look beyond the intricacies of high level statistics to genuinely address what their findings mean to real people and society. Many academics are afraid to even speak to policy makers for fear of being interpreted as being “political.” They give up their rights as citizens to speak up to attempt to strengthen what others perceive as unbiased researchers.

        The strong activist personality is not successful in administration and I can honestly say I know of none. Business perspective and management skill is required even of those in positions you would identify as most likely to be activist.

        Brushing all academic programs with the same broad sweep means you don’t recognize reality in academia and promote embracing an inaccurate and overblown perspective. Please consider the NAS as one perspective, not truth for all.

  3. Jim, you skipped over the first paragraph on the Curry School home page on being “active agents of change in a complex global society.”

    “The Curry School of Education and Human Development values diversity, equity and inclusion in all of its complexity and richness. We engage our students with multiple perspectives to prepare them to be active agents of change in a complex global society. ”

    This ties in with the statement under Faculty & Research:
    “Global Involvement
    “To be successful global citizens, workers, and leaders, American students will need to be knowledgeable about the world, be able to communicate in other languages, and be informed and active about decisions and problems that impact the global community. This statement from the 2008 NEA National Summit on Raising Global Awareness in US Public Schools is reflected in Curry’s growing participation with international partners.”

    This fits with the U.N. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 4.7;
    “By 2030, the international community has agreed to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including global citizenship. Universities have a responsibility to promote global citizenship by teaching their students that they are members of a large global community and can use their skills and education to contribute to that community.”

  4. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Bravo to Virginia State University!

  5. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    “I want to know the degree to which the next generation of Virginia teachers are being indoctrinated in leftist dogma. …

    My quick, superficial finding is that most Virginia’s schools of education incorporate a commitment to inclusiveness, diversity and social justice to some degree. But they vary in the extent to which they seek to indoctrinate these values in their students.”

    S’okay. Defined. Leftist dogma is inclusiveness, diversity and social justice.

    Therefore not Lefist dogma, i.e., Rightist dogma, is exclusiveness, homogeneity, or individual injustice.

    Just checking.

  6. Inthemiddle Avatar

    The dogma says ‘inclusive’, but in practice is anything but. Only the true believers get to have a say. ‘Diversity’ and ‘social justice’ are limited to a very narrow definition of the terms. And if you disagree, you are wrong.

  7. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I really do not understand what you and others have against the promotion of “inclusiveness, diversity and social justice”, especially when “social justice” is defined as embodying “essential principles of equity and access to all opportunities in society.” If this is liberal “dogma”, does that mean that conservatives do not support the goals of inclusiveness, diversity, equity, and access to all opportunities in society? Contrary to John Whitehead’s assertion, equity does not necessarily taking from some and redistributing it to others.

    1. I have no problem at all with inclusiveness, diversity and social justice in the abstract, only the way those otherwise benign terms have been expropriated and injected with specific meaning by leftists. Today, those terms are euphemisms for “white privilege,” “white fragility,” “systemic racism,” and all that those terms imply. They also imply a set of structural and institutional remedies which, I believe, will prove very destructive to the very people they are purported to benefit.

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        It seems, then, it would be better to train your criticisms on those aspects which you find fault or disagree with, rather than dismiss the goals.

    2. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead V

      We shall see Mr. Dick. Time will reveal all to us. I sincerely hope that you are right. Conservatives do believe in the goals of inclusiveness, diversity, and equality. I am not so sure about the word equity. Based on what I have seen unfolding in Loudoun County prior to my retirement I have a bad feeling about what is coming. A good example is the Loudoun County Academy of Sciences. This is the equivalent of the famous Thomas Jefferson Magnet School in Fairfax. Asians and Indians dominate the enrollment. Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks compete for the scarce remaining enrollment spaces. Membership in the school is based on merit. You can take it to the bank that there will be some form of a quota system in place by the fall of 2022. All in the name of equity.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Equity is hard – because it’s not about equal opportunity – it’s about access to equal opportunity.

        If you never had the same opportunity to achieve “merit” – then systems which award other opportunities based on merit – won’t include you.

        Some kids – never have a chance at the same opportunities as other kids. We like to blame it on parents but that’s a cop out because it’s like saying “too bad you had bad parents, you’re screwed” – and that’s the kids only sin and our education system says it’s not their problem – it’s the kids’ problem.

        Most of us have pretty much taken for granted this dilemma. We’re better at shrugging our shoulders and affixing blame than we are at doing something about it – so far.

        1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead V

          All true Mr. Larry. Having the same opportunity to achieve merit might be the essence of what we are all discussing. Merit is a documented basis for deserving/earning praise/reward for excellence. Merit can be documented by grades, achievement scores, character quality traits observed by peers. A fully trained master in the area of measurement will have the institutional knowledge and wisdom to accurately judge merit.

          Perhaps what must be done is to fully train our youth on how to achieve merit and support the traits necessary for mastery. There is no subscription charge for this. Numerous examples in United States and Virginia History of principled disciples of merit becoming the masters of merit. George Washington, Patrick Henry, and John Marshall are great examples. And yes even Robert E. Lee. In black history we can find Virginians such as Booker T. Washington, Samuel Gravely, and Carter Woodson.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            I give due respect to any who have taught – you know how the world really works in school.

            But it does trouble me when we grant more opportunities based on “merit” when not all have the same access to resources.

            When we have a magnet school – and it’s based on merit – and the demographics are cattywampus, should we dismiss it as “merit” even if a tiny percentage of a demographic qualifies?

            That’s the equity issue. How is it that we have a population demographic of 15% and only 1% qualifies on merit?

            Lots of arguments about equality and equity but I don’t see saying that is just how things are.

            I don’t know the answer to fixing it – but I think folks that are saying this an “equity” issue are correct.

          2. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead V

            I do see your argument Mr. Larry. I cannot understand why there are only a dozen black students at the Academy of Sciences in Loudoun. There are 900 slots for this school. I know for a fact that there are many who can make the cut with the proper pre support in earlier grades. I remember in my AP US History classes I would never permit a Hispanic or Black student to drop. Often those kids wanted out. Too much work, too much reading, too much writing, and not enough people like them in class. Many times they had signed up for the class because of their parents but really did not have the skills or the self discipline to excel. So I made it my mission to fix that. In fact I was harder on those kids many times. I didn’t drown students either. If I saw a head go under water I grabbed the neck collar just in time. When scores came in that was the reward. A legitimate score that proclaimed those kids did indeed belong despite the constructs set up that said otherwise. It gave those young men and women such an advantage to know that they could indeed handle the rigors of a college level class before a real check had to be written.

          3. LarrytheG Avatar

            for quite a few kids, the difference between success and failure is the teacher. I have known several that made such a difference.

    3. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      “I really do not understand what you and others have against the promotion of “inclusiveness, diversity and social justice”.”

      I find it amusing that there is a constant chorus of “tribalism” being bantered about in the policy discussion, e.g., “We have become tribal,” “The Left is being tribal,” when the words they choose to describe those opposing them are decided anti-tribal.

      When you describe your philosophical opponent using anti-tribal words, what then, does that say of your own position?

  8. Jim Loving Avatar
    Jim Loving

    The term global citizenship has been around quite a while and stems from the development of (Capitalist) Trans-national corporations, operating in every continent and over 100 countries around the world.

    If you plan to do (Capitalist) business in this fashion, it is a good idea if your employees understand multi-culturalism and how to operate in those markets. I’m pretty sure Karl Marx did not write about that.

    Capitalism requires the understanding of markets – how they operate and how to win and do business within those markets. Trans-national corporations, a construct of modern Capitalism, better have employees that understand and can successfully operate within those markets.

    1. Inthemiddle Avatar

      I think we should distinguish between a ‘market economy’, which seems to be what you’re talking about, and ‘Capitalism’, which is a system of governance in which people with capital rule. As such, it is in opposition to individual liberty and democracy, and republican governance (small ‘r’) in which all citizens have equal value.

      Many of our Founding Fathers were Capitalists, as demonstrated by property requirements for voting. By the Jacksonian era, our leadership at least gave lip service to republican virtues. We have oscillated between Capitalism and republicanism since then. Thanks to Citizens United, we currently seem to be firmly in the Capitalist mode.

  9. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Dick says:
    “I really do not understand what you and others have against the promotion of “inclusiveness, diversity and social justice”, especially when “social justice” is defined as embodying “essential principles of equity and access to all opportunities in society.”

    Jordan Peterson answers Dicks question:

    For example:

    DIVERSITY is not defined or determined by OPINION,

    But instead diversity is defined and determined by RACE, ETHNICITY, And SEXUAL IDENTITY.


    But instead Equity is defined and determined instead by an insistence on an EQUALITY OF OUTCOME.

    And INCLUSION can only be based on IDENTITY BASED QUOTAS to achieve EQUITY.

    Plus, all other American values and rights of American as individuals or groups, whether natural rights, constitutional rights, or any other mandated by laws, must be secondary, submissive, and overridden, if contrary to these three Supreme Values of RACE, ETHNICITY, And SEXUAL IDENTITY as defined by the leftist state from time to time.

    For more see:

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      I am not familiar with Jordan Peterson; he is free to define terms as he wishes, but I do not have to accept those definitions. Before I accept his characterizations, I would need more than his opinion.

    2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Dick –

      I am quite surprised that you are not familiar with Jordan Peterson. Contrary to radical leftist ideologues, Jordan Peterson is a highly respected, popular, and very well known academic and public intellectual at the very top of his profession.

      See, for example, this hour long presentation, which is only one of many found on youtube.

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: “I really do not understand what you and others have against the promotion of “inclusiveness, diversity and social justice”, especially when “social justice” is defined as embodying “essential principles of equity and access to all opportunities in society.”

    I agree. So are we saying that what Dick is saying is incorrect?

    or that it’s correct but it gets perverted with attempts to provide it?

    Peterson seems to have interesting views:

    ” Peterson has argued there is an ongoing “crisis of masculinity” and “backlash against masculinity” in which the “masculine spirit is under assault.”[3][127][128][129] Peterson has argued the left characterises the existing societal hierarchy as an “oppressive patriarchy” but “don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence.”[3] Peterson has said men without partners are likely to become violent, and has noted male violence is reduced in societies wherein monogamy is a social norm.[3][127] He has attributed the rise of Donald Trump and far-right European politicians to what he says is a negative reaction to a push to “feminize” men, saying “If men are pushed too hard to feminize they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology.”

  11. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    “… and Liberty and Justice FOR ALL.” Leftist dogma! Spit!

  12. Inthemiddle Avatar

    I have nothing against ‘inclusiveness, diversity and social justice’ as abstract concepts, just the way I have nothing against ‘liberty, individualism and democracy’. My issue is that the people throwing these concepts around don’t mean what they say.

    What does it mean, for example, when English departments drop Mark Twain from their curriculum for using a word that is commonly used in the 21st century rap community? What ‘inclusiveness’ or ‘diversity’ does that represent.

    Or when speakers are denied audiences at campuses because of their political beliefs?

    Where does anyone have an opportunity to argue that affirmative action has been, and will continue to be, an ineffective means of providing opportunities for blacks?

    Where is the opportunity to argue that the premise of the 1619 project is historically inaccurate.

    I believe that the proponents of ‘inclusion, diversity and social justice’ have given a narrow, ideological meaning to those words that is different from their ordinary meanings. And the last thing they have in mind is actually being ‘inclusive’ or ‘diverse’.

    I’m open to being persuaded otherwise, but you will have to do better than spit.

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Your example of the works of Mr. Twain are right on target. There is a an entirely separate cultural rule book that applies to what you speak of.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      There must be a better word than “stupid” to characterize a decision to drop Mark Twain from school reading lists because of the use of one word, but I can’t think of it. People sometimes have a tendency to go too far in one direction and make themselves look petty. (Of course, when books are banned or dropped from reading lists, that makes students want to read them!)

      I, too, am appalled at the intolerance shown on some college campuses regarding dissenting, or unpopular, opinions. However, in some respects, that is the nature of college students. In the 1950s, they didn’t want Communists to speak on campus; in the 1960s, they did not want to hear from anyone supporting the Vietnam war.

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead V

        My years of experience teaching Generation Z tells me this: conformity. Generation Z generally listens to the same music, they watch the same Netflix shows, they melt their minds in Tic Tok, girls where their hair long and straight, boys are generally conservative and short in hair length, and they really like to sleep in. Like all youths they want to fit into the norms of their time and THEIR culture. You are right nothing has really changed in all of the generations that pass through the ritual of being young.

  13. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” My issue is that the people throwing these concepts around don’t mean what they say.”

    some certainly do.

    And you always have had the right to argue otherwise and do.

    The basic problem is that folks who oppose changes to deal with proposals to deal with inequity and inclusion – basically come across as having no alternatives… they just oppose and essentially argue for the status-quo.

    If they had an alternative approach – and made that argument – and won over people to that path – it would be different.

    You can beat something with nothing.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      “You can (sic) beat something with nothing.”. You can with an Electoral College.

      I’ve read this piece 3 times and have yet to understand to what he is objecting. There are a lot of pieces published here as of late, especially on education, where the whole can be boiled down to “I don’t like it.””

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: “I don’t like it.”

    ergo – “there is nothing wrong with what we are doing right now and even
    if there is , it’s not my job to help fix it”.

  15. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Larry, you make it sound as if there was no civil rights movement; there was no voter registration movement; there we don’t spend $1 trillion on the social safety net; there is no Medicaid; there is no free lunch program; there are no housing subsidies; there has been no effort at ending discrimination; affirmative action has not been in place for 50 years; there has been no effort to be ‘inclusive’; there has been no effort at accepting ‘diversity’; that no one until now has done anything to promote ‘social justice’.

    These efforts have not been as successful as we might hope and conservatives make a continuous effort to limit them. But what we’ve accomplished is not nothing.

    Practically speaking, how will students be better prepared to be productive citizens graduating from VCU than from VSU? What will be the difference in learning at the two schools?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Inthemiddle – these programs have had success in reducing abject poverty but as you probably agree, they’re treating the symptoms rather than how they fell short to start with – economically.

      So we agree.

      Truth be known – if they show up at College academically deficient – “equity” won’t help them – it just makes some of us feel better… a “compensation” for our failure to deal with the issue – which starts way back in K-3.

      If you leave 3rd grade and you really don’t have a good reading ability – you’re handicapped… for the rest of your life.

  16. LarrytheG Avatar

    I think it if fair to say that public education has failed to insure than every child has equitable access to opportunity.

    We’ve tried to provide to all of them the same education, but we’ve known for decades that – not all kids are the same in terms of learning and different techniques of teaching are needed. Long before the Federal Title program and others – it was routine for teachers to recognize that Johnny was having trouble with something and intervened to help.

    But they could not compensate for entire schools full of kids that needed help – kids from lower economic strata, living in low income neighborhoods, one parent who also did not have a good education so unable to really help their child.

    So when we stand up Magnet schools, and we admit based on “merit” – what does that mean to a child in such disadvantageous circumstance?

    At this point, many throw up their hands and say it’s not anyone’s fault that these kids live in these circumstances…i.e. ” we can’t save them all”.

    Which is true – if we were talking across the board but it’s a harder concept when it skews to demographics.

  17. Inthemiddle Avatar

    I’m sure the Alexandria City Public School board would disagree.

    Their slogan over recent years has been “Every Child Succeeds”. Their 2020-2025 strategic plan is focused on ‘Equity for All’ – “Going Forward, racial equity will be at the center of every decision that the school division will make.”

    We have a per student school budget that is among highest in the state ($18,000/student), with a school population that is 2/3 black and hispanic, where over half the students are eligible for reduced cost lunches and 30% of the students speak English as a second language. The teachers compensation is higher than any district in northern Virginia. We have the lowest student/classroom teacher in the elementary schools and second lowest in high school (16.6 AND 21.0); the lowest student/teacher-scale (including special ed, ESOL, etc.) in both elementary and high school (10.2 and 11.7).

    Despite these efforts, black students score no better on average than black students state-wide and hispanic students score worse on average than hispanic students state-wide.

    You can blame ‘institutionalized racism’ if you like, but you can’t claim that ACPS has failed to provide an equitable access to opportunity.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I don’t see a problem with a GOAL of “every child succeeds”.

      And the demographic they are teaching is a tough demographic.

      It’s not institutional racism but it really does demonstrate how hard it is to educate kids who are economically disadvantaged, children of parents who are economically distressed and educationally handicapped.

      In the end – we do have a choice – blame the parents and rationalize the child failing to achieve an education better than their parents – or keep working the issue to find ways for the child to do better than their parents did.

      We can just give up and make whatever excuses satisfy our own biases – or we can admit that we do have a responsibility to keep at it even if progress is hard.

      We don’t give up on traffic congestion..or poverty or other systemic issues – kids are no different.

      Looking at VDOE build-a-table – mostly 70% – not wonderful but way better than some other urban schools.

  18. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Just a reminder, here’s my post from the Marxist Critical Theory Column –

    Even progressives should be concerned by the totalitarian ideology that passes for critical thinking in our education system. Whatever happened to dedication to free speech, inquiring minds, open debate, etc.? To say nothing of hard work, practical problem-solving, respect for others?

    Like any fundamentalist religion, the totalitarian ideology is irrational and intolerant. Once it infects our institutions, it will spread beyond extremist progressives to other political leanings.

    On the other hand, our conservatives claim to support important abstractions, but they have difficulty applying them in real life. Which programs extending liberty, property rights and democracy have conservatives actually supported over the decades?
    End of slavery? No
    End of Jim Crow laws? No
    End of school segregation? No
    Right of blacks to vote? No
    Right of women to own property? No
    Right of women to vote? No
    Right of gays/lesbians to marry? No
    Eight-hour work day? No
    Occupational health and safety? No
    Environmental protection? No
    Amelioration of climate change? No

    Celebration of defenders of slavery and treason? Yes
    Gerrymandered districts? Yes
    Limiting voting booths in minority neighborhoods? Yes
    A trillion dollar handout to the wealthy? Yes
    Restrictions on support for the poor? Yes
    Right to discriminate against people who are ‘different’? Yes

    Where does this record demonstration a commitment to democracy, individualism, liberty, or private property?

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Tough to argue with the evidence. But the same people who, as you so succinctly listed, deny those actions and programs that would promote liberty are the ones who have been banging the drum of commies on campus for decades. Credibility? Not much. This is the Right Wing’s equivalent to “playing the race card”.

      What’s laughable is the claim that universities are Marxist institutions. Let’s first start with how they “redistribute” their endowments, eh?

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      re: ” On the other hand, our conservatives claim to support important abstractions, but they have difficulty applying them in real life.”

      what does that REALLY mean – that they really don’t believe in actually doing those things, that they just oppose whatever progressives propose?

      NMP – not my problem….

  19. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Larry, what it means is that ideologues of all stripes have the same problem – they lack the ability/will to critically examine what they claim to believe in. Just as ideologues on the left sincerely believe in ‘inclusion, diversity and social justice’, conservatives sincerely believe in ‘individualism, liberty and social democracy’. And none of them examine how those slogans actually play out in real life.

    By the way, while I happen to see a problem with ‘Every Child Succeeds’, compared to ‘Every Child Studies Hard’, my point was that ACPS have everything a progressive would want from a school system serving low income students – promotion of progressive ideals, large budgets, low teacher-student ratios, lots of support personnel, lots of community support. I would say this school system is providing as much equal access to opportunity as is possible for any school. If you disagree, I would suggest that you rethink the entire notion – it’s an impossible goal.

    And in a sense, I believe it is an impossible goal. We need to be more humble about what a school can do. In particular, we need to recognize that a school cannot fix all of the social challenges faced by students in our communities. Students who want to succeed academically need to take on the responsibility of learning, regardless of the difficulties of their private lives. Schools should provide support, but, at the end of the day, it’s the students’ individual responsibility to succeed.

    You might argue that this is inequitable, since some students face more difficult situations than others and, therefore, have greater challenges than others. But schools can only ameliorate those difficulties; they can’t change them.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      When we rank in the top 10 for developed countries, I might reconsider how much we can or should do….

      The job of public education – in all developed countries is to deliver to students the kind of help they need to succeed.

      We have decided in this country that we serve kids with two educated parents better than other kids. That’ our collective excuse.

      And it’s a really dumb one because these kids grow up – and they need and get 10 times the tax money to provide them with health care, housing, food, etc AND THEN they have KIDS who will repeat the cycle until we decide that what we are doing right now – makes no sense.

      No, I do NOT believe we can “save them all”. Never did. There are rich kids who will fail because they lack initiative or parental support of whatever… and there are poor kids who fail that way – but there’s another group of poor kids who need quality education from teachers who know how to teach low-income children.

      We KNOW it can succeed. There are “success” academies , right?

      1. Inthemiddle Avatar

        “The job of public education – in all developed countries is to deliver to students the kind of help they need to succeed.”

        I think your statement is factually incorrect. I’m not aware of any developed country that considers the job of public education to be delivering to students the kind of help they need to succeed. My understanding is that we are bit of an outlier in our view that this might be considered an appropriate mission for a school. Rather, my understanding is that most countries believe the job of education is to educate students.

        And, as a practical matter, I wonder what metrics you use to define success – both to measure success of schools and success of students.

        “We have decided in this country that we serve kids with two educated parents better than other kids. That’ our collective excuse.”

        I have no idea what you’re talking about here – but I suspect it’s factually incorrect. In what way have we decided that schools should serve kids with two educated parents better than other kids?

        There is no doubt that having two educated parents is an advantage in education – we can generally expect them to be committed to education, to be examples for their children, and to set high expectations for them. But it is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for academic success – we know that children can succeed academically even if their parents were not educated and that children of two educated parents do not always do well in school.

        But I’m not aware of any school that has created its programs specifically to benefit two educated parents above others. And I will offer ACPS as a prime example of a school system that deliberately aims its programs at students who do not have two educated parents.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          based on academic results – if more students end up with better educations… they must be providing more students with the ability to succeed:

          The USA ranks at 505 on reading

  20. Inthemiddle Avatar

    I’m all for academic results as our measure of success in school!

    My impression is that in a lot of the countries listed parents and teachers expect their students to work hard, to practice what they’ve been taught (homework), and to respect their teachers. Unfortunately, these are not currently attributes we value in the US. Rather, we prefer to focus on diversity, inclusiveness and equity.

    As I understand your comments, you seem to believe that education is something that happens to students (“they must be providing more students with the ability to succeed”). I don’t see any role for the students in your comments. But in my world, students have the primary responsibility for becoming educated. Schools provide important support; good teachers can make a huge difference. But the hard work has to be done by the students.

  21. LarrytheG Avatar

    So you think all those other countries have better parents and better students and the problem is that the US is inferior to the other countries?

    Yes.. I agree that the student has to engage but most teachers will tell you that it’s a work then reward type environment. Encourage the child then give him an “attaboy”… human nature…

    Here’s the thing. In good quality schools, if one or two Johnnies has trouble reading – they gets help… over and above the classroom and usually from an experienced teacher.

    In low-income neighborhood schools, there are way more johnnies who can’t read well and teachers in those schools are often less experienced newbies and less able to help one johnny much less a class room full of them.

    That’s does not happen as much in other countries because they do not have neighborhood schools delineated by the income demographics of the neighborhood – so all the kids get whatever help they need to be able to read –

    and this shows up on the PISA ratings..

    According to the 2018 results, the 10 percent of the most socio-economically advantaged students outperformed their 10 percent most disadvantaged counterparts in reading by 141 score points, on average across OECD countries.

    In the United States specifically, 27% of advantaged students, but only 4% of disadvantaged students, were top performers in reading.

    How is it so different between us and other countries when it comes
    to disadvantaged students?

    1. Inthemiddle Avatar

      First of all, taking a closer look at the chart, I would say our educational system is pretty good. Our national test results are as good as some (in particular, China), better than others (most members of the EU). Weak in math, which is a subject that requires memorization and a lot of practice. But, overall, ok.

      You say we have a ‘work then reward type environment’. That’s a cultural choice and might explain why our test scores are lower than other countries (particularly China), where the culture might be ‘work hard, get good grades, get a good job and quit whining’.

      The linked article quotes the NEA president, “Every teacher knows that test scores don’t measure a child’s worth nor potential.” If education is about ‘worth’ and ‘potential’, maybe we’re not as concerned as we should be about reading, writing and arithmetic. Test grades are not a perfect measure of achievement, but tests certainly help to focus the mind on studying the subject matter.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Weren’t you the one talking about he differences in scores between blacks and whites in Alexandria and that was related to reasons why, specifically parents who helped their kids and kids who worked harder at learning?

        The other thing I would urge you to look at with respect to Alexandria is the individual elementary school results.

        To what would you attribute big differences between them?

        that kids in one school study better than other schools? Are the parents better at some schools that others and that explains the differences in test scores?

        I don’t know if you are familiar with VDOE build-a-table but it generates interesting data for – like a school system like Alexandria but on each individual schools scores… for blacks, whites, economically disadvantaged, hispanics, asians, etc…

  22. LarrytheG Avatar

    this is from build-a-table – It’s English Reading 3rd Grade at all the elementary schools:
    school race pass rate
    Charles Barrett Elem Black, >50
    Charles Barrett Elem White, 93.1
    Cora Kelly Magnet Elem Black, 50
    Douglas Macarthur Elem Black, 34.78
    Douglas Macarthur Elem White, 88.46
    Ferdinand T. Day Elem Black, 60.87
    Ferdinand T. Day Elem White, 50
    George Mason Elem Black, >50
    George Mason Elem White, 81.82
    James K. Polk Elem Black, 48.48
    James K. Polk Elem White, 80.65
    Jefferson-Houston Elem Black, 21.43
    Jefferson-Houston Elem White, 76.92
    John Adams Elem Black, 71.79
    John Adams Elem White, 55
    Lyles-Crouch Elem Black, 66.67
    Lyles-Crouch Elem White, 89.29
    Maury Elem Black, 33.33
    Maury Elem White, 90.63
    Mount Vernon Elem Black, 60
    Mount Vernon Elem White, 92.86
    Patrick Henry Elem Black, 64
    Patrick Henry Elem White, >50
    Samuel W. Tucker Elem Black, 83.33
    Samuel W. Tucker Elem White, 76.67
    William Ramsay Elem Black, 50
    William Ramsay Elem White, <50

    to what would you attribute the vast differences in scores?

  23. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Great question! Especially since ASPC is totally dedicated to ‘All Children Succeed’ and a focus for 2019-2020 of “Educational Equity”.

    As stated in its 2020-2025 strategic plan:
    “Each of these goals ensures that students are engaged in classroom instruction, have access to the educational resources needed to enhance their learning, and participate while in safe, friendly, and welcoming environments.
    It also sets clear division-wide priorities and programs that will eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps as well as ensure that all students graduate ready for college, careers and life. Progress toward these strategic goals will be measured with rigorous metrics.”

    And ACPS puts its money where its mouth is – $18,000/student; the highest teacher compensation in the region; student/teacher and student/teacher scale (including special ed, ESL) among the lowest (10 students/teacher scale personnel – how much lower can you go?).

    If ACPS can’t do it with its progressive attitude and upper end budget, no one can.

    Back to your question, I would also ask why whites (who represent 27% of all students in ACPS) have lower pass rates than blacks in four of the fourteen schools?

    In any case, somewhere between third grade and high school, ACPS must be doing something right. 80% of its graduating students go on to post-secondary education. Since only 28% of the students are white, a significant number of black and hispanic students must be going as well. (Blacks are 25% and hispanics are 37% of the student body.)

    So you ask me to explain these scores, and all I can say is ACPS provides the commitment and resources to serve low-income students.

  24. LarrytheG Avatar

    Assuming they do – equally to all their schools – what explains some of the big score differences in scores between the schools if the school system is providing 18K for each and every student?

  25. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Alexandria is a Progressive majority city. It seriously believes in ‘inclusion, diversity and social justice’. The City is committed to raising the academic levels of its minority students (who are a majority of the student body).

    If the scores do not reflect that, it might be because schools cannot eliminate all of the challenges faced by low-income students. It might be because not every cultural group values education in the same way.

    But is not because the system is not providing the commitment and resources needed to enable every student to succeed.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      well are they – to every school?

      How can they be doing all this good stuff and some schools do better or worse than others?

      why are their differences in the schools test results?

  26. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Yes. ACPS is absolutely committed to equity.

    As I’ve mentioned, and you too, it’s not just the school – it’s the student, their abilities, their commitment to their education, their family, their peer groups, their family and community resources, their other support systems outside of school. Income affects some of these variables, but not all. And income level is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for explaining the differences.

  27. LarrytheG Avatar

    So these scores are for each school. So how can it be that say, 200 kids at one school score very different from 200 kids at another school?

    Can all 200 kids at one school be less able or not good at studying or what? Is there a higher number of economically disadvantaged at one school than the other?

    If both schools have the same resources – but 200 kids – as a group score lower than 200 kids at other schools.

    When we look at a single school system and it’s academic scores – that are really an aggregation of all the schools in the district – and then we look at the scores of the individual schools and they vary widely – what do we really know about how they allocate their resources?

    At they allocating thousands more for the high scoring kids and shortchanging other schools where the kids do badly on tests?

    Can you rule the above in or out without knowing the actually funding per school? What’s the biggest cost? Salaries, right? Does a veteran teacher of 20 years get a higher salary than newbies right out of college? Do the low income schools get staffed by veteran teachers or newbies?

    Do the low-income schools get additional Title 1 money or not?

    So – here’s the suspicion – that the schools in the higher income neighborhoods get more experienced teachers and more programs for kids who show promise – while the schools in the lower income neighborhoods get newbie teachers who are not well-trained in dealing with large numbers of economically-disadvantaged kids and there are not enough specialized help (Title 1) to handle the width and depth of the need.

    look at “Conclusions” on this:

    is this a kid/parent issue or a school resource issue – and are we responsible if it is this kind of problem – instead saying it’s about lazy kids and bad parents, etc?

    You can’t tell much of any of this – by just looking at top-level school division data… you have to look at the individual schools to see what their demographic is – and if they are staffed with enough of teachers who have the background and skill to teach economically-disadvantaged.

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