George Will takes a look at the requirements for today’s students of social work — and discovers a political commissariat worthy of the Soviet Union. Universities have required pledges of loyalty to liberal political thought as a requisite for success in their social-work programs, failing students who object to being told what to think (via CapQ reader Sandeep Dath):
In 1997, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) adopted a surreptitious political agenda in the form of a new code of ethics, enjoining social workers to advocate for social justice “from local to global levels.” A widely used textbook — “Direct Social Work Practice: Theory and Skill” — declares that promoting “social and economic justice” is especially imperative as a response to “the conservative trends of the past three decades.” Clearly, in the social work profession’s catechism, whatever social and economic justice are, they are the opposite of conservatism.
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the national accreditor of social work education programs, encourages — not that encouragement is required — the ideological permeation of the curricula, including mandatory student advocacy. The CSWE says students must demonstrate an ability to “understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination.”
At Arizona State University, social work students must “demonstrate compliance with the NASW Code of Ethics.” Berkeley requires compliance as proof of “suitability for the profession.” Students at the University of Central Florida “must comply” with the NASW code. At the University of Houston, students must sign a pledge of adherence. At the University of Michigan, failure to comply with the code may be deemed “academic misconduct.”
Schools’ mission statements, student manuals and course descriptions are clotted with the vocabulary of “progressive” cant — “diversity,” “inclusion,” “classism,” “ethnocentrism,” “racism,” “sexism,” “heterosexism,” “ageism,” “white privilege,” “ableism,” “contextualizes subjects,” “cultural imperialism,” “social identities and positionalities,” “biopsychosocial” problems, “a just share of society’s resources,” and on and on. What goes on under the cover of this miasma of jargon? Just what the American Association of University Professors warned against in its 1915 “Declaration of Principles” — teachers “indoctrinating” students.
In one sense, many will not find this a large hurdle to clear. While nothing about conservatism objects to social work, many of the employment opportunities come from government agencies or government funding. Traditionally, conservatives have tried to keep funding limited for these bureaucracies, which has generated a great deal of enmity among the scholars of these professions.
However, they should keep their lobbying efforts focused on their lawmakers and not their students. This goes beyond the normal in-class diatribes that many college professors use to boost their political agenda. They are now requiring pledges, signed contracts, and other explicit agreement from their students with those agendas, without which they cannot pass their classes. They also assign liberal political action projects to the students as required class projects, threatening failure if they do not comply.
Will descibes two cases from the study. In one, Missouri State required students to sign a letter to the state legislature advocating gay adoptions. When she objected, the university took administrative action against her for violating professional standards, and refused to allow her parents to attend her hearing. Only after the family sued the university did the school drop the charges and pay her financial restitution. In another, a student left the program when the professor made clear that she could not expect to pass unless the student supported abortion.
One has to wonder not at the arrogance behind these indoctrination efforts, but at the panic that drives them. The academics apparently understand that they have a losing argument, and so have stopped allowing debate on these issues. Instead, they abuse their positions of trust and authority to become a thought police, demanding unthinking loyalty to diktats rather than allowing for intellectual diversity.
It’s interesting to see how totalitarianism develops, and from which sources.