FIRE Responds To Teachers College

October 19, 2006

Yesterday, FIRE responded to the Oct. 11 letter written by Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman, which disputed FIRE’s characterization of Teachers College’s NCATE dispositions as “ideological litmus tests.” FIRE’s response, penned by FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, argues that the solution is straightforward: “eliminate the use of impossibly vague and politically charged evaluative criteria.” Lukianoff writes:   

FIRE asks only that a personal “commitment to social justice” or any other vague or politically loaded term no longer be required of Teachers College students, not that the school as a whole abandon its attachment to a certain model of “social justice.” Indeed, FIRE has no position or comment on the ideological or political nature of the college’s definition of social justice. We would oppose with equal vigor a policy requiring students to demonstrate their commitment to “patriotism,” “individualism” or “capitalism.” Any educational institution that claims to value free speech and academic freedom may not prescribe students’ final conclusions on questions of great personal, moral, political, and philosophical importance. Helping prepare students to research, reason, criticize, analyze, and argue on their own is education. Deciding what conclusions are correct and then asking students to accept these conclusions as truth is thought control and creates dogma rather than innovation. 

 FIRE looks forward to receiving a response from Presidents Bollinger and Fuhrman.  

Schools:  Columbia University