PULLMAN—Ed Swan considers himself a basic social conservative, opposed to gay marriage, affirmative action and the notion that affluent white men are responsible for a lot of social injustice.
The Washington State University student also opposes abortion and wrote “diversity is perversity” in the margins of a textbook.
Swan’s attitude prompted his professors in the WSU College of Education to order him into diversity training, and almost caused Swan, 42, to be kicked out of the teacher-training program.
He fought back by contacting the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based group that battles political correctness at universities.
“They want liberals out there teaching kids,” Swan complained about the College of Education. “To me, it seems mainstream opinions got me in trouble.”
Officials for the university say they are taking a fresh look at the criteria used to determine whether prospective teachers are fit to lead a classroom full of children.
The evaluations are designed to identify future teachers who might introduce inappropriate material—whether about politics, religion or other hot-button issues—or would be uncomfortable among some groups in classrooms.
“We want prospective teachers to realize they are going to be teaching all children,” said Judy Mitchell, dean of education.
“We want to make sure a teacher appreciates and values human diversity and others’ varied talents and perspectives.”
Among other questions, the WSU form asks professors to evaluate whether a student exhibits an understanding of the complexities of race, power, gender, class, sexual orientation and privilege in American society.
The idea of evaluating whether future teachers will be effective has been widely adopted in recent years, largely because of prodding by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which evaluates teaching programs around the country.