Katherine Kersten: Battle lines drawn against U initiative

December 12, 2009

In this age of political correctness, a college student’s best friend is FIRE — the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Since 1999, FIRE has safeguarded the civil rights of students across the ideological spectrum — winning victories at 121 colleges and universities, bringing an end to 81 unconstitutional or repressive policies, and benefiting 2.7 million students.

Now, FIRE is riding to the rescue of students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where a heavy-handed attempt at thought control is underway.

The Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group of the U’s College of Education and Human Development has recommended that race, class and gender politics become the “over-arching framework” of all teacher education courses. Under the group’s proposed plan, future teachers would be required to pass an ideological litmus test — denouncing “white privilege,” “hegemonic masculinity” and “heteronormativity,” and proving their determination to “fight” for “social justice.”

In connection with this initiative, the College of Education intends to redesign its admissions process. It plans to use “predictive criteria” to weed out applicants whose beliefs are judged to render them incapable of developing acceptable levels of “cultural competence.” A university document calls for warning this year’s applicants about the possible changes.

Last month, FIRE fired off a legal warning shot to university President Robert Bruininks. “If the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group achieves its stated goals,” its letter declared, “the result will be political and ideological screening of applicants, remedial re-education for those with the ‘wrong’ views and values, and withholding of degrees from those upon whom the university’s political reeducation efforts proved ineffective.”

Schools: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Cases: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities: Political Litmus Test for Future Teachers