(Tim) Last week, Wheaton College's Teacher Education Program Conceptual Framework was big news. A radio commentator named Sandy Rios did a short commentary on the document and it was hurting the college's reputation enough that their provost, Stan Jones, was assigned the task of responding.
Jones made a valiant effort, but was doomed to failure. These ordering principles written and adopted by Wheaton's Education Department are indefensible, particularly for a school claiming to be under the authority of the Word of God. There's barely a hint of that commitment in this piece of educational propaganda.
Yet this is not just propaganda. Here we have the document used to vet Wheaton faculty hires as well as Education majors seeking teacher certification. The Conceptual Framework has teeth. The last third of the document is titled "Performance Expectations and Assessment of Candidates" and includes statements like this:
(We have) instituted a referral process for identifying and assisting candidates who do not exhibit appropriate dispositions to teach. This process is described in detail in the Unit Assessment Plan. In essence, any professor may complete a referral on any candidate who, in the professor’s judgment, does not exhibit the appropriate dispositions to teach. The ramifications of such a referral include both remedial and punitive aspects.
Of course, no one wants Wheaton's Ed. Department to pass on for certification men and women lacking the knowledge or gifts to teach. But read the earlier two-thirds of the document and it's apparent Wheaton defines "appropriate dispositions" by a student's ability to silence his biblical conscience in the context of the toxic, anti-biblical multiculturalism pervasive throughout our public schools. The entire document is an exercise in teaching Christians how to go along to get along...
It's aimed at preventing Wheaton grads from giving the school a bad name by zealous, and therefore destructive, teaching that's informed by the Word of God, prayer, and the Coming Judgment.
The Conceptual Framework makes it apparent that Wheaton has departed from producing graduates committed to working and leading and teaching "for Christ and His Kingdom." Wheaton's profs indicate no desire for their students to apply Scripture to their students' lives or the schools they work in. Rather, students must prove their ability and commitment to enter the public school system "work(ing) effectively for positive change in their schools and communities."
Does Wheaton want their students to be teachers? No. They are to be "agents of change." This phrase is hammered home, appearing in the Conceptual Framework eighteen times. And what changes are the profs' seeking through their students?
The profs declare it is their:
"mission to prepare teachers as agents of change in the schools: (1) teaching for social justice, (2) making informed decisions, and (3) acting responsibly. These three central themes are the unit’s primary purposes and their supporting research forms the philosophical basis for (our) conceptual framework."
What "social justice" is Wheaton's Ed. Department seeking?
The Conceptual Framework begins with a recitation of Wheaton's history:
Jonathan Blanchard, Wheaton College’s first president and a strident abolitionist, believed strongly in preparing Christian young men and women to fight injustice and improve life for those in need. Under Blanchard’s leadership, Wheaton College was the first four-year college in Illinois to graduate an African American and to enroll women on an equal basis with men.
Note that statement that the school's first president was a "strident abolitionist."
Not to get off the track, but I'm wondering whether Wheaton's profs have ever used the word 'strident' to commend anyone?
And moving on, I also wonder whether Blanchard's stridency in opposing slavery is a model for the sort of change agency these profs are seeking to inculcate in their students as they send them out into our nation's public school districts to oppose, for instance, the slaughter of our nation's unborn children? The starvation of our nation's feeble and elderly? The murder of our nation's defective newborns?
What stridency concerning what social justice issues are Wheaton's profs turning out, and how do Jonathan Blanchard's commitments translate to the work of Wheaton's Education Department today?
Teaching for social justice is addressed in all of the unit’s classes to ensure that the candidates both understand and are able to demonstrate a respect for all [emphasis in original] individuals regardless of any particular characteristics, belief systems, or disabling conditions.
Then, Wheaton's grand vision is clarified:
The issue of teaching for social justice has generated significant discussion in recent Teacher Education Advisory Committee meetings [TEAC is Wheaton's Ed. Dept.'s advisory committee] as the partners discussed changes in their schools. Based on these discussions, the unit has delineated three broad goals related to social justice. These broad goals are further interpreted in highly specified outcomes incorporated into each class/experience; and measurements in the form of key assessments related to standards promulgated by ...national specialty organizations (that) ensure that all of the candidates are learning to teach for social justice...
The first broad goal is to ensure that candidates learn to work effectively with all children and their families regardless of race, creed, religion, national origin, sexual preference, disabling condition, or capabilities. This broad goal is measured by numerous indicators on the field experience evaluation forms, examinations in several classes, several papers prepared in classes common to all certification candidates, and the candidates’ portfolios.
The second broad goal is to ensure that diversity is respected and that candidates have the opportunity to work in diverse environments and with diverse colleagues and teachers. This goal is measured primarily by evaluations of candidates in their practicum experiences and by the unit’s capacity to meet Standards 3 and 4 of the NCATE Unit Standards. Outcomes include cooperating teachers’ and college supervisors’ evaluations of candidate performance, cooperating districts’ diversity indicators, and College data regarding diversity among students and faculty.
The third broad goal is to ensure that candidates understand current social justice issues in education and understand their obligation to work for positive change. This goal is measured primarily by an action research paper completed by each candidate during the student teaching experience. This paper is also included in each candidate’s final portfolio. [paragraphs added for ease of reading]
Wheaton has a much-vaunted exegetical faculty pouring their lives into the closest examination of historical documents' lexicographical nuances and cultural contexts. It might be good for them to turn their attention away from Scripture for a day or so, to work on a document giving a precise explanation to Wheaton's administration, trustees, and alumni of the real meaning of the Education Department's Conceptual Framework.
Sadly, Wheaton graduates approved to teach in our nation's public school districts will not bring the multicultural diversity of a Christian conscience bound gracefully by the Word of God out of hiding, into our public schools.
Rather, as every evil deed called an "abomination" by God is promoted across the public school districts of our nation today, Wheaton will send out teachers carefully honed to demonstrate "respect" for those abominations. They may be strident, but only for "social justice," "making informed decisions," and "acting responsibly."
Speaking seriously, Pastor Curell just added the comment that he believes honest and faithful Christians committed to Scripture have a better chance of making it out of our Indiana University School of Education, intact, than Wheaton's Department of Education and its Conceptual Framework.
Wasn't it Chesterton who said the anti-Christian is always a half-Christian gone mad? May God lead Wheaton back to producing grads with the Biblical fire and Holy Spirit zeal of Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, and Nate Saint.