Dark Times Indeed: NCATE, Social Justice and the Marginalization of Multicultural Foundations

Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Journal of Educational Controversy

Publication Date

Summer 2007

Abstract/ Summary

This article uses the recent and seemingly local NCATE decision to drop the terminology of “social justice” from its examples of dispositions in teacher education to make a larger and more global argument: that the multicultural foundations field (educational foundations, educational studies, and multicultural education) has become fundamentally marginalized in its ability to impact educational policymaking. This article first traces the political context of NCATE’s decision to drop the disposition of social justice. It then provides three distinct empirical data sets at three ever-more finely grained units of analysis—a national-level analysis of influence, a state-level analysis of coursework requirements, and a classroom-level analysis of syllabus construction—that demonstrate such marginalization. The article concludes that multicultural foundations has abdicated its responsibility to future teachers, schools of education, and the public at large by removing itself (and being removed) from the paramount discussions and debates of the role of schools in a democratic and pluralistic society committed to equity and equality for all students. NCATE’s decision is thus not only a single, but actually singular, example of multicultural foundation’s current inability to, in Maxine Greene’s (1976) terminology, challenge mystification in “dark times.”