All signs are that the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is planning to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers. The university’s College of Education and Human Development intends to mandate certain beliefs and values—“dispositions”—for future teachers. Yet that is not enough. It even intends to redesign its admissions process so that it screens out people with the wrong beliefs and values-those who it judges will not be able to be brought around to the correct beliefs and values of “cultural competence” even after remedial training.
The college’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative includes several task groups. The Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group has some very specific ideas about “cultural competence,” as described in its final report (later amended) of July 16, 2009. Although the task group admits “that cultural competence remains hard to define and that current definitions lack consensus,” the group emphasizes:
Nonetheless, let there be no doubt that we consider cultural competence to be an indispensable characteristic of all beginning teachers and, hence, an obligatory goal of teacher education. In fact, we believe that the following outcomes that we present should serve as an overarching framework from which beginning teachers frame the rest of teacher education courses and practice.
Here are the key excerpts regarding how the group describes the “obligatory,” “indispensable” features of “cultural competence” on the level of “Self”:
Our future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.
Future teachers will understand that they are privileged & marginalized depending on context … It is about the development of cultural empathy, if you will. Teachers first have to discover their own privilege, oppression, or marginalization and also are able to describe their cultural identity.
Future teachers will recognize & demonstrate understanding of white privilege.]
Future teachers will understand the importance of cultural identity and develop a positive sense of racial/cultural identity.]