Fin-de-siècle at Wheaton College...

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(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


(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.


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


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



  1. teaching for social justice
  2. making informed decisions
  3. acting responsibly

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


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.


that statement that the school's first president was a "strident


Not to get off the track, but I'm wondering whether

Wheaton's profs have ever used the word 'strident' to commend anyone?


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?


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?


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...


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.


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


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]


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.


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


I agree.

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.