A University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) professor last semester had her students write an eight-page “commitment to social justice” in a class required for graduation with a K-12 teaching degree, according to The College Fix.
Revital Zilonka’s syllabus for her Instruction of Education class details the assignment which has students demonstrate their “commitment” to social justice, including how they “plan to advance social justice.” In their analyses, students must respond to a set of questions including, “What prejudices came up on your mind while interviewing/thinking about the interview?” This assignment comes at the end of the course after the students have gained “a new understanding” of “society and education.”
Additionally, the required reading list includes “feminist and Marxist” publications. The syllabus also “tells students to like on Facebook a slate of secular-progressive pages, such as the pro-LGBTQ Human Rights Campaign, Feministing, Million Hoodies, and the Brown Girl Collective.”
The College Fix emailed the university for clarification, as well as to see if students could request an alternative assignment. However, those emails went unanswered.
The syllabus was first reported by John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Pope Center writer Jay Schalin says, “A public university cannot permit a professor to demand that its students ‘commit’ to a specific political perspective.” Further, he says, “’Social justice,’ as it is used in this case, is precisely that, a term that implies a leftwing ideology,” which is part of the “critical pedagogy” of Brazilian, Maoist-inspired writer Paolo Freire.
Schalin states that this is not simply “a school or professor exercising his or her academic freedom,” but that it is a clear violation of “most accepted definitions of academic freedom.”
He cites the “1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure” which states that an instructor’s “business is not to provide his students with ready-made opinions, but to train them to think for themselves.” He says that the instructor is to “especially be on his guard against taking advantage of the students’ immaturity by indoctrinating him with the teacher’s own opinions before the student has had an opportunity to fairly examine other opinions upon the matters in question.”
Schalin says that the course is “openly intended to push prospective teachers to adopt left-wing ideas.”
Image via Million Hoodies