Dark Times Indeed:
NCATE, Social Justice, and the Marginalization of Multicultural
This article uses the recent and
seemingly local NCATE decision to drop the terminology of “social
justice” from its examples of dispositions in teacher education to
make a larger and more global argument: that the multicultural
foundations field (educational foundations, educational studies, and
multicultural education) has become fundamentally marginalized in
its ability to impact educational policymaking. This article first
traces the political context of NCATE’s decision to drop the
disposition of social justice. It then provides three distinct
empirical data sets at three ever-more finely grained units of
analysis—a national-level analysis of influence, a state-level
analysis of coursework requirements, and a classroom-level analysis
of syllabus construction—that demonstrate such marginalization. The
article concludes that multicultural foundations has abdicated its
responsibility to future teachers, schools of education, and the
public at large by removing itself (and being removed) from the
paramount discussions and debates of the role of schools in a
democratic and pluralistic society committed to equity and equality
for all students. NCATE’s decision is thus not only a single, but
actually singular, example of multicultural foundation’s current
inability to, in Maxine Greene’s (1976) terminology, challenge
mystification in “dark times.”
Thirty years ago
the educational philosopher Maxine Greene (1976) warned that teacher
education was perilously close to abdicating its responsibility for
preparing future teachers able to challenge the mystifications of
her times. These were dark times, she warned, when educators could
not or would not question the myths of “equal opportunity,”
“meritocracy,” and the taken-for-granted presumption that “democracy
has been achieved” rather than always “an open possibility” (p. 14).
She went on to argue that “there must always be a place in teacher
education for ‘foundations’ specialists, people whose main interest
is in interpreting—and enabling others to interpret—the social,
political, and economic factors that affect and influence the
processes of education” (p. 15).
Greene must find
the contemporary situation eerily familiar. This article uses the
recent and seemingly local decision by the National Council for
Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to drop the terminology
of “social justice” from its examples of dispositions in teacher
education to make a larger and more global argument: that
multicultural foundations has become fundamentally marginalized in
its ability to impact educational policymaking; and, as such, truly
unable to challenge and interrupt today’s ever-pressing
mystifications within teacher education.
This article first
traces the political context of NCATE’s decision to drop the term
“social justice” from its examples of potential dispositions. This is
done in order to highlight this event as an exemplary moment where
multicultural foundation’s marginalization was made starkly visible by
its actual absence from the policy table. This article then provides
three distinct empirical data sets at three ever-more finely grained
units of analysis—a national-level analysis of influence, a state-level
analysis of coursework requirements, and a classroom-level analysis of
syllabus construction—that demonstrate such marginalization. None of the
data sets are in and of themselves definitive; when viewed in
combination, though, the overarching picture offers a strong
prima facie argument to
support the claim of marginalization.
The first data set
provides a national perspective of the number and relevance of
multicultural foundations scholars and voices within teacher education
and the education policy debates surrounding it. The second data set
provides a comprehensive perspective of the coursework requirements
(focusing specifically on multicultural education courses) in every
single teacher education program within a single state. The third data
set examines a large set of multicultural foundations syllabi to
determine the format, scope, and specific practices of classroom
instruction for future teachers.
The results, in brief, are that the level of influence in national educational policy debates and actual policymaking is miniscule; that the requirements for multicultural foundations coursework rarely exceed a single introductory course; and that most such introductory coursework seldom forces prospective teachers to leave the safety of the textbook or the four walls of the college classroom. This article thus concludes that multicultural foundations has abdicated its responsibility to future teachers, schools of education, and the public at large by removing itself (and being removed) from the paramount discussions and debates of the role of schools in a democratic and pluralistic society committed to equity and equality for all students. The clear-cut example is in regards to NCATE’s decision to remove social justice as a possible disposition. But the real examples are littered across the K-16 educational landscape, beginning in the deafening silence of voices at the national level and percolating down to the college classroom level of actual practices and policies. These are dark times indeed for multicultural foundations.
KNOWING WHO IS BEHIND US: CONTEXTUALIZING NCATE’S DECISION
In the summer of
2006, NCATE came up for re-accreditation in front of the Education
Department’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality. At
stake was NCATE’s ability to continue accrediting education schools as
well as its desire to expand accreditation reviews to nontraditional
institutions (such as online universities). For close to a year NCATE
had been fighting charges of facilitating the ideological indoctrination
of students due to the inclusion of “social justice” as an example
within its set of possible dispositions. The National Association of
Scholars (NAS), for example, had filed a formal inquiry with the US
Department of Education because, it argued, social justice “is a term
necessarily fraught with contested ideological significance” and, by
listing it, NCATE was “clearly encouraging and legitimating the adoption
by teacher preparation programs of what appears to be a political
viewpoint test” (NAS, 2005, pp. 1-2; see also Hess, 2006; Johnson, 2005;
Arthur E. Wise,
NCATE’s president, denied such a charge to the committee: “I
categorically deny the assertion that NCATE has a mandatory ‘social
justice’ standard . . . We don’t endorse political or social ideologies.
We endorse academic freedom, and we base our standards on knowledge,
skills and professional disposition” (quoted in Powers, 2006). Yet as
Powers (2006) noted, “But Wise knew who was behind him, both in physical
proximity and in order of speech—a small group of third-party witnesses
ready to pick apart NCATE’s practices.” Wise thus announced that NCATE
would eliminate all references to social justice because “the term is
susceptible to a variety of definitions.” The third-party witnesses had
nothing to attack; and NCATE received a five year renewal of its license
One cannot really
blame NCATE for its decision. Sitting behind Wise were the presidents of
the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), NAS, and the
American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). These three
organizations, in conjunction with David Horowitz’s “academic bill of
rights” campaign (Horowitz, n.d.), have been the leading organizations
in high profile and highly effective attacks on the so-called “liberal
bias” in higher education. FIRE has championed students’ contestation of
teacher education dispositions at, among other institutions, Brooklyn
College and Washington State University; ACTA has built upon the Ward
Churchill scandal (University of
Colorado-Boulder, 2006) to argue that
“the extremist rhetoric and tendentious opinion for which Churchill is
infamous can be found on campuses across America…In course after
course, department after department, and institution after institution,
indoctrination is replacing education” (ACTA, 2006, foreword; p. 3).
NCATE’s decision can
thus be seen, from an organizational perspective, as prudent. NCATE must
be seen as but one in a host of institutions under attack from
neo-conservative organizations and think tanks funded by a small group
of well-financed right-wing foundations (deMarrais, 2006). As Michael
Berube (2006) has pointed out, this is a conscious move by the
conservative movement to go beyond attacking the
content of academic
discourse—what he terms substantive liberalism—and instead focus also on
the context and process of
academic discourse itself, which Berube terms procedural liberalism. By
consciously redefining “social justice” as non-inclusive and one-sided
(i.e., liberal), such organizations were thus also able to redefine
NCATE as seemingly against academic pluralism (see Fish, 2004, for an
explication of this strategy).
Moreover, and more pragmatically,
there was literally no one sitting
behind Arthur Wise willing and able to defend the other side to the
committee; namely, there was no one who could speak to the ancient
origins of, societal consensus around, and empirical evidence for social
justice as a cause for all individuals (and especially for future
teachers) in a democratic and pluralistic society.
And it is this fact of visible absence that raises the glaring questions for the multicultural foundations field. For multicultural foundations scholars are precisely the individuals who have developed extremely nuanced and powerful methodologies and theories for unearthing, examining, and explicating social inequities in our schools. If anyone in teacher education should have been sitting behind Arthur Wise, either in person at the meeting or metaphorically through other means in other public and visible venues, it should have been multicultural foundation scholars. So, simply put, where were multicultural foundations scholars when the question of dispositions was put on the table? The answer, simply stated, was that they were too marginalized to be heard.
THE MARGINALIZATION OF FOUNDATIONS
This section empirically examines the
marginalization of the multicultural foundations field at three distinct
levels of analysis. It does so in order to document the actual
structures, policies, and practices that, in all of their seemingly
mundane minutia, formally and systematically exclude multicultural
foundations from the table of educational policymaking such as occurred
with NCATE’s decision.
Before proceeding, though, it is useful
to point out that this marginalization, at this particular historical
moment in contemporary educational debates, is deeply ironic. It is
ironic exactly because so much of educational practice and policymaking
has become centered on issues at the heart of multicultural
foundations—e.g., urban education, cultural competence, structural
inequities, and the performative and organizational limits of testing
and accountability (e.g., Cochran-Smith, 2003; Ladson-Billings, 2006;
Oakes, 2004; Rogers & Oakes, 2005). In fact, the very dispositions
indexed by the term of social justice—issues of cultural competence and
“fairness” (the term NCATE now uses in place of social justice)—are of
utmost relevance for teachers, administrators, and the general public at
large. Only 32% of teachers
feel very well prepared to address the needs of students from diverse
cultural backgrounds (NCES, 2000, p.35), while at the same time an
overwhelming majority of teachers (almost 80%) believe that it is
“absolutely essential” that effective teachers have an ability to work
well with students whose backgrounds are very different from their own
(Public Agenda, 2000, p. 39). Given the overwhelming presence of
whiteness (Sleeter, 2001) in the pool of teacher candidates—close to 90%
of teacher candidates are white, female, and come from educated,
middle-class, English-speaking families (Snyder, Tan, & Hoffman, 2004,
tables 255 & 265)—multicultural foundations coursework is a crucial
component for developing such dispositions.
foundations should thus seemingly be a central component of teacher
education (deMarrais, 2005), especially since the teaching of complex
and contested topics oftentimes encounters massive covert and overt
student resistance (Butin, 2005a). As Villegas and Lucas (2002) suggest:
teachers-to-be enter education believing that schools are impartial
institutions, that cultural diversity is problematic, that knowledge is
objective and neutral, that learning consists of passively absorbing new
information and repeating it by rote, and that teaching entails
dispensing information, preparing them to be culturally responsive
requires a complete resocialization. (p. xix)
Resocialization, though, is not so simple. The research on teacher change is clear here; as Virginia Richardson and Peggy Placier (2001) note in a review of the research, “What we see expressed in these current studies of teacher education is the difficulty in changing the type of tacit beliefs and understandings that lie buried in a person’s being” (p. 915). The teaching of social justice should thus (seemingly) be centrally important and centrally located in teacher education. But this is far from the case.
National-Level Analysis of Influence
The first step for
determining the relative influence of the multicultural foundations
field is assessing the national presence and impact it might have in
influencing educational policy. A review of the literature finds that
the multicultural foundations field has minimal presence.
research, I detailed (Butin, 2005b), for example, that between 2001 and
2004, only a single major education policy report out of ten dealing
with “fixing” teacher education explicitly referenced the multicultural
foundations. This included policy reports from the political left,
right, and center, and boasted prominent members (such as Linda
Darling-Hammond, Mary Hatwood Futrell, and Ellen Condliffe Lagemann) who
are aware of and active in fields aligned with the multicultural
foundations. A detailed content analysis of three of the major reports
found that out of a combined total of 224 pages, the multicultural
foundations garnered just four sentences. One of my conclusions was that
“What this portends
is the near total ascendancy of an instrumentalist conceptualization of
teaching and learning in educational policymaking...the most contextual
and contested educational issue—‘culture’— has become acontextual and
neutral...The ‘problem’ of at-risk schools has been circumscribed in the
language of efficiency and accountability. Culture (of students,
teachers, schools, communities) has been erased” (Butin, 2005b, pp.
disregard for a central theme within the multicultural foundations
signals a fundamental lack of ability to be heard.
This inability to be
heard at the national level may be due, in part, to the fact that the
multicultural foundations field no longer has a formal and official
presence in the policy-making bodies that determine and debate what
actually should be taught in education schools. Dottin, et al. (2005)
document the recent withdrawal of the Council for the Social Foundations
of Education (CSFE) from NCATE. CSFE is the national umbrella
organization for the social foundations field, having member
organizations such as the John Dewey Society, the American Educational
Studies Association (AESA), and the History of Education Society. CSFE
officers and individuals have, over the past two decades, served in
various capacities in NCATE, from serving on accrediting committees,
advising and writing standards, and leading specific task forces (Dottin,
et al., 2005). The relationship with NCATE ended in 2004;
money was the apparent reason for the recent break up between CSFE and
NCATE [due to the membership fee of $15,000], there continues to be an
undercurrent of other concerns. Many within the social foundations of
education community do not look with favor on national accreditation as
a structure, or on NCATE as an adequate example of such a system”
(Dottin, et al., 2005, p. 251). With no similar relationship to Teacher
Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) either, no formal relationship
exists today by which the multicultural foundations field can put
forward its perspective surrounding issues of the review and
accreditation of the majority of education schools.
Finally, such lack of presence is mirrored in the general positioning of multicultural foundations within teacher education. An analysis of data drawn from the federally-funded Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED; Thurgood, et al., 2006) clearly demonstrates this. The SED asks all doctoral students to, among other things, self-identify their specific doctoral subspecialty. There are 40 distinct categories within education (e.g., music education, psychology, social science education), with only a single one (“social/philosophical foundations of education”) that indexes multicultural foundations. Assuming that the methodology is more or less sound (e.g., self-identification issues, completion rates), the data show a precipitous decline in those that identify themselves as foundations scholars. Table 1 provides a summation of the data.
Table 1. Number of Doctoral Degrees Awarded in the Social/Philosophical Foundations of Education
There is therefore a decidedly obvious trend at the national level. The multicultural foundations field is too small, too disconnected, and too easily overlooked to be heard within the current educational policy debates. While it is uncertain whether any single one of these conditions is the primary “problem,” it is clear that the confluence and interlinked aspects of these issues exacerbates the overall national level of influence that the multicultural foundations field may hope to achieve.
State-Level Analysis of Coursework Requirements
marginalization of multicultural foundations may be viewed as well at
the level of coursework. Specifically, if the dispositions of cultural
competence, social justice, and “fairness” do indeed require a complete
“resocialization,” it would seem to be important to offer as many
opportunities as possible to engage such issues in the college
classroom. Yet that is not the empirical case on the ground.
An analysis was
conducted of every approved elementary teacher certification program in
exists concerning required educational coursework in multicultural
education. Fuller (1992) found that out of 19 institutions, 18 had a
multicultural education course, but only half of these required it.
Bennett and Jordan (1997) found that of 139 elementary education
programs, only 20 (14%) required coursework in multicultural education.
And a US Department of Education (Adelman, 2004) analysis of actual
undergraduate coursework taken by future teachers found that
multicultural education was not among the top thirty courses taken; for
post-baccalaureate coursework, multicultural education was taken by just
17% of teachers.
eighty-six elementary education programs approved by the Pennsylvania
Department of Education (see Appendix A). Relevant information of exact
coursework requirements (through Internet searches of each university’s
website) were found for eighty-three of them. While multicultural
education courses had varying titles – e.g. “multicultural education,”
“education in a diverse society” – course descriptions were very
Table 2 provides a summary of the results. Twenty-three percent of all elementary education programs required a multicultural education course. For comparison sake, secondary education programs with citizenship/social studies certification were also included. Nine of the teacher education programs with elementary education programs did not have a Citizenship certification; of the remaining 74 that did, 16% required a multicultural education course. The implication is that, in the best-case scenario of elementary education, fewer than one in four future teachers has the opportunity to take a multicultural education course in college. Once secondary education programs are considered, fewer than one in five teachers is required to gain exposure to and involvement in the complex and contested issues of K-12 education.
Table 2. Status of
required coursework in multicultural education
It is of particular,
if tangential, interest that a coursework requirement in multicultural
education did not correlate to any obvious factor, including NCATE
accreditation. Coursework requirements in multicultural education at the
elementary and secondary (citizenship education) level were examined in
relation to NCATE accreditation (see Appendix A), and the total
enrollment and in-state tuition of the institution. (These data were
taken from the 2004-05 US News & World Report rankings). Table 3
presents the Pearson correlations.
Table 3. Pearson correlations of select variables
significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Required coursework in multicultural education at the elementary level was correlated solely to a similar requirement at the secondary level. Neither NCATE accreditation, size of the institution, or tuition had any statistical significance. (To be expected, given the type of institutions that NCATE accredits, there was a strong correlation between NCATE accreditation and the size and tuition of an institution.) Thus, for the purposes of this article, it is critical to note that while other variables may impact the decision to require multicultural education coursework (e.g., specific institutional history, activist group of faculty), such variables appear to be highly idiosyncratic and not related to NCATE’s own focus on “diversity.”
Classroom-Level Analysis of Syllabus Construction
Yet what exactly is
it that students actually gain in the multicultural foundations courses
taken? Is the content of sufficient depth and rigor to support
prospective teachers’ grappling with these important issues? The final
level of analysis to be considered is the actual course syllabus. While
a syllabus is not isomorphic with what actually occurs in the classroom,
it provides the limiting factors (e.g., the specific assigned text in
and of itself determines what knowledge, and from what theoretical
perspective, the students will be exposed to).
internet search was conducted for social foundations of education and
multicultural education syllabi. Only those courses taught within
teacher preparation programs were used. Courses were differentiated
between multicultural education, foundations of education, and
introduction to education courses (see Butin, 2004, for a more detailed
methodological articulation of this form of analysis). Two hundred and
twelve syllabi matching such criteria were found. While this search
yielded a convenience sample of syllabi, there appears to be little
self-selection bias of the pool of syllabi on the Internet. Syllabi came
from 182 different institutions, the vast majority of which were in the
Table 4. type of course
analysis focuses on the latter two dimensions in that they are
applicable to individual courses. Zeichner and Hoeft (1996) describe the
third dimension of interacting
with versus studying about
cultures as the depth of field experiences with “pupils and adults from
different backgrounds” (p. 527); the fourth dimension (the degree of
cultural “modeling”) is understood as the extent to which courses or
programs build upon the strengths of students’ cultural backgrounds and
experiences, foster active engagement, and respond to “varied student
needs” (p. 528). This may include, for example, pedagogical practices
conducive to student-student discussions rather than formal
teacher-student lecturing or the accommodation of students’ distinctive
cultural norms for public displays of achievement. Alternatively, the
presumption of a one right answer and the corresponding lack of
“discussion of different perspectives [about multiculturalism]” is cited
as a case of a teacher education program that may foster cultural
diversity in rhetoric rather than reality.
distinctions were operationalized as follows to allow for syllabi
analysis: Zeichner and Hoeft’s (1996) third dimension of
interacting with versus
studying about cultures was
operationalized as the level and type of field experiences in a course;
Zeichner and Hoeft’s (1996) fourth dimension of cultural “modeling” was
operationalized as the number and variety of required readings.
Field experiences in
schools or community settings are standard practice in teacher education
programs (though not as standard as might be imagined given the findings
below). Prospective teachers are required to observe, participate, and
ultimately lead, classrooms over the course of their teacher education
coursework as preparation for their own future profession as teachers.
Yet field experiences engage multiple domains, with engagement with
diversity being just one of numerous and oftentimes more pressing
issues. Prospective and preservice teachers are usually much more
interested in issues of classroom management, best practices, and
assessment than something less pressing and more abstract such as gender
or racial stratification across math groups or curricular tracks.
were then differentiated between (and coded as) either “traditional”
field experiences or “multicultural” field experiences. The latter were
coded for if the syllabus explicitly stated that the field experience
engage, at least in part, issues such as culture, diversity, or social
justice. This could have been accomplished by a student in multiplicity
of ways, such as a journal entry, through an interview, or in a paper.
While this may sound vague in theory, there was in fact a sharp
demarcation in all of the syllabi. Traditional field experiences were
simply stated; multicultural field experiences, on the other hand, were
always described at length in each syllabi.
A foundations of
education course at a small liberal-arts college provides a typical
example describing the requirements for a “multicultural” field
[assignment #4] For
this assignment you will engage in semi-structured observations of one
or more of the following: male-female interaction patterns in [name]
College classrooms…gender bias in college texts, etc… [assignment #7] As
part of your fieldwork you need to observe, with a gender sensitive
lens, and report on areas such as curriculum content, displays,
textbooks, teacher-student interaction, tasks allocation, seating,
discipline, and extra-curricular activities.
diversity course at a university assigned a “Cultural Immersion Paper”
that required students, in part, to work “with a group and/or school
culture of English learners…prepare a five to seven page report of your
experience…[that] describes your own cultural identity…describes the
group or setting you chose to immerse yourself in and why…[and analyzes]
your own stage of cultural diversity using Salyere’s six-stage model.”
Table 5 provides a descriptive overview of the use of field experiences across all of the syllabi. While almost half of all courses required some type of field experience (45.4%), less than one quarter actually specified that the field experience should be approached through multicultural perspectives.
Table 5. Number of Syllabi with Required Field Experience Components
Table 6. Cross-tabulation of type of course, by type of field experience
It is thus plausible
that the use of textbooks in foundations of education and multicultural
education courses mitigates against the cultural inclusiveness and
cultural responsiveness spoken of by Zeichner and Hoeft (1996). While
the use of a textbook in and of itself does not prevent the “discussion
of different perspectives” in the classroom, there is
prima facie evidence that
textbooks may constrain constructivist and culturally competent
Table 7 provides a descriptive overview of what types of courses make use of textbooks. Overall, 89% of all courses used a textbook as the primary mode of instruction. Introduction to education and multicultural education courses made greatest use of a textbook (95 and 94%, respectively); foundations of education courses made least use of a textbook (81%).
Table 7. Cross-tabulation of type of course, by whether a textbook is used
Yet the data cited
above portray a dismal picture. Textbooks are ubiquitous and
multicultural field experiences are nearly non-existent outside of
multicultural education courses. Even in multicultural education
courses, where discussions about diversity and social justice are most
salient, content knowledge is fundamentally textbook-driven and
classroom-bounded. Diversity, it appears, is all too often taught from
Two examples will
suffice. An “Education in American Society” course at a branch campus of
a tier 1 public university states in its syllabus that “This course . .
. will provide you with a broad and detailed exposure to the realities
and intellectual context of teaching. . .”. The requirements for the
course are a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the course text, eight
quizzes, and five one-page “reaction papers” in the format of “(Author’s
name) is right because . . . (Author’s name) is wrong because . . .This
is important because . . . After reading and discussing the selections I
now know . . .”. A multicultural education course at a southern state
university lists its course objectives as (in part): “at the end of this
course, students will be able to . . . write thematic units that
incorporate a multicultural perspective [and] help their students
develop inter-cultural awareness.” The only student evaluation in the
course is “based upon class participation and a paper . . . on a topic
of your choosing and my [the professor’s] approval.” The only text is a
multicultural education reader.
These are not anecdotal examples. In fact, there is an overwhelming preponderance of evidence that foundations of education and multicultural education courses are divorced from the cultures they study and teach about, and do not practice what they preach. The courses just cited have no collaborative group work, little self-initiated learning, and no field experience, much less field experiences that engage issues of diversity or social justice. What this research finds is that most students in most courses are provided with miseducative forms of socialization towards cultural diversity. This is not a phenomenon occurring just to a few groups in a few places. These patterns are consistent and widespread across institutions, courses, demographics and geography.
The conclusions of
such findings are troubling. If we take seriously Nieto’s (1995)
injunction that schools provide students a “democratic apprenticeship”
through both pedagogical practices and curricular content, then our
education schools seem unprepared. For democracy, as the saying goes, is
not a spectator sport: It takes time and effort to learn how to engage
in substantive dialogue; to think carefully and critically about
complex, contested, and consequential social issues; and to be able to
reflect on and act upon what it means to live in a just society. Such is
especially the case as issues of diversity and equity become ever more
predominant in our educational conversations.
Yet the only courses
prospective teachers take towards engaging issues of cultural diversity
seem to instead limit both what is learned and how it is learned.
Prospective teachers seem to gain numerous opportunities to
learn about other groups and
cultures; they gain numerous opportunities to
hear about the correct way to
engage with cultural diversity. What they do not seem to gain, though,
is the opportunity to engage with and discuss cultural diversity in
sustained, substantive, and educative ways.
for discussion and debate, moreover, are inherently constrained at the
state level by the lack of requirements for multicultural foundations
coursework and at the national level by any formal voice of the
relevance and role of multicultural foundations in teacher preparation.
This isolationism—at the classroom, state, and national level—is doubly
ironic given that multicultural foundations both teaches about and was
founded for greater understanding about, relationship with, and analysis
of school-community linkages (see., e.g., Cooper, 2007; Zeichner, 2003).
As such, I’d like to
suggest that the dispositions debate (irrespective of its ultimate
outcome) is fundamentally important because it demonstrates both the
extreme relevance and extreme precariousness of the multicultural
foundations field within teacher education. This is not to say that the
controversy surrounding NCATE’s decision to drop the term of “social
justice” is irrelevant. Rather, it is to point out that NCATE’s decision
is one among many such public and not-so-public events occurring through
K-16 education at the local, state, and national level.
policymaking—from departmental decisions on what coursework to require
to accrediting decisions that impact curriculum and instruction
nationwide—is about the coherent, visible, and politically viable
articulation of constituents’ voices. It is about setting the parameters
of the language game within which subsequent debate and dialogue will
occur. To even position the dispositions debate, for example, as between
“professional ethic or political indoctrination,” assumes that the term
“dispositions” is being contested around two diametrically-opposed and
foundations has much to offer to such contemporary debates. But it
cannot do so without effective practices and policies at multiple
levels. A national voice is predicated on a place at the policy table,
which itself is predicated on institutions’ and individuals’ belief that
multicultural foundations matters to prospective teachers. And such
beliefs cannot take hold until and unless actual classroom practices
mirror and support the dispositions being taught. For foundation
scholars to truly challenge mystifications and support the adequate
teaching of critical dispositions, it is time to find means to re-center
who we are and what we do.
There are multiple places to start. CSFE or a similar organization could be restarted in order to provide a platform by which multicultural foundations scholars might provide a clear and unified voice on contemporary policy issues; foundations-related organizations (e.g., AESA, The John Dewey Society) can develop policy documents that articulate the need for foundational coursework in teacher preparation and such courses’ alignment to accrediting standards of NCATE and TEAC; the multicultural foundations field could initiate internal discussions on the seeming gap between the rhetoric and reality of coursework requirements and practices. None of these proposals, of course, may be ultimately successful given the depth of the problems at hand for the multicultural foundations field. But, at least, it may provide us with a flashlight to guide us through the dark times ahead.
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*Intern Program Approval
 I use the terminology of multicultural foundations as an inclusive term for coursework and academic fields traditionally associated with educational studies, educational foundations, educational policy, and multicultural education. Traditionally, educational studies is understood to encompass educational policy and educational foundations, the latter of which itself encompasses such disparate subfields as history of education, sociology of education, and gender studies (CLSE, 1993). Given the fluid boundaries between many of these sub-disciplines (e.g., gender studies, race, class, and gender, and sociology of education), I find multicultural education to fit neatly within these fields. Thus the neologism of “multicultural foundations,” which will be used throughout the rest of this article to refer to the broad array of aforementioned coursework and academic fields.