Press Releases | Trusteeship

Accreditors’ Evaluation Standards Demand DOE Review

ACTA Calls on Secretary Spellings to Disavow Political Litmus Tests; Asks Congress to Hold Hearings
November 11, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) today called on the Department of Education to disavow accreditation standards which invite ideological litmus tests of prospective teachers and social workers and asked Congress to hold hearings on the practice. In a letter to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, ACTA asked the Department to review accreditation standards imposed by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Council on Social Work Education which demand that accredited institutions evaluate their students based on subjective dispositions and social commitments.

Both NCATE and CSWE oblige member schools to evaluate students on attitudes, values and commitments and outline the expectation that member schools establish dispositions for students to possess–and then enforce them. Recent episodes in New York, Washington, and Rhode Island illustrate that member schools are, in fact, applying NCATE and CSWE standards as a political litmus test for students wishing to teach or undertake social work.

“These amorphous evaluation standards, as applied, undermine students’ First Amendment rights and higher education’s obligation to instruct rather than indoctrinate,” said ACTA president Anne Neal. “They give schools unlimited power to control what their students think and do.”

“The fact that these evaluation standards can be utilized to weed out those students who fail to think ‘in the right way’ is particularly deplorable at a time when there are serious shortages of qualified teachers,” the ACTA letter said. “Rather than permitting federal accreditors to engage in social engineering, the Department of Education should demand clearly defined principles which relate directly to a student’s future success, namely skills and subject-matter knowledge.”

“We ask the Department to step in immediately to review these practices and their bearing on DOE’s recognition of NCATE and CSWE, and to disavow accreditation standards which subordinate academic goals to social engineering,” ACTA said.

In a separate letter to chairmen of the House and Senate committees overseeing higher education, ACTA urged them to hold hearings on these troubling practices.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a national education nonprofit based in Washington, DC dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality and accountability. It is the sponsor of Trustees for Better Teachers, a multi-year initiative to improve teacher education in the United States.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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