Victory for Freedom of Conscience as University of Minnesota Backs Away from Ideological Screening for Ed Students
MINNEAPOLIS, December 23, 2009--In response to sustained pressure from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has backed away from its plans to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers. The plans from its College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) involved redesigning admissions and the curriculum to enforce an ideology centered on a narrow view of "cultural competence." Those with the "wrong" views were to receive remedial re-education, be weeded out, or be denied admission altogether. In a letter to FIRE, however, the university's top lawyer has now promised that the university will never "mandate any particular beliefs, or screen out people with 'wrong beliefs' from the University."
"We are relieved that the University of Minnesota has finally committed itself to upholding the freedom of conscience of its students," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "Prospective teachers will keep the right to have their own thoughts, values, and beliefs. FIRE will continue to monitor the situation to make sure that the university does not define 'cultural competence' or 'dispositions' requirements in a way that interferes with individual rights."
Indeed, the next version of the college's plans must reflect the university's promise. To learn about other cultures is one thing, but the college may not demand that future teachers hold certain moral and political "dispositions" or specific views about pedagogy. The college should understand that not all great teachers have the same views about politics or education.