Social justice or so much for justice?

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In a recent article in City Journal, Sol Stern explores "social justice" pedagogy--a disturbing trend in ed schools. Social justice pedagogy seeks to inject multiculturalist, class-conscious, and gender-centered teaching into all areas of the curriculum, even seemingly neutral areas like math and science education. That's right, social justice math--"count to ten with Paolo Friere." If you thought teaching math was (or should be) a politically neutral enterprise, you're wrong.

Stern rightly emphasizes the most important point--that while social justice instruction claims to care for poor children, it actually holds them back. Low-income students deserve an education that will try to make up the deficiencies in skills and knowledge (relative to their more affluent peers) that they face from birth. True "social justice pedagogy" would entail giving a quality education to those who have historically been denied one--you know, giving them a chance to join the middle class, not encouraging them to burn it down. Besides, they can always become revolutionaries on their own--if some kid in Colorado is destined to be the world's next Chairman Mao, chances are he won't need a math textbook to tell him what to do.

Stern calls on state legislators to regulate the teaching of social justice pedagogy in ed schools. That may be a good idea, though the "academic freedom" card would likely be thrown down quickly in that event. From where we sit, the least policymakers can do is make sure that tomorrow's teachers are getting some good reading instruction along with their humbug.