I wish the supervisors of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) at that university’s School of Education had checked with me before they decided [Michelle] Kerr’s views and her blogging were inappropriate for a student in their program. They appeared to have decided her anti-progressive views were disrupting their classes, alienating other students and proving that she and Stanford were a bad fit. Kerr says they tried to stifle both her opinions and her blog, and threatened to withhold the Masters in Education she was working toward, based on their expressed fear that she was “unsuited for the practice of teaching.”
Kerr’s eventual triumph over such embarrassingly wrong-headed political correctness is a complicated story, but worth telling. In her struggle with STEP, she exposed serious problems in the way Stanford and, I suspect, other education schools, treat independent thinkers, particularly those who blog.
STEP retains the right to decide if a student is suited to teaching, and can deny even someone as smart and dedicated as Kerr, who has a splendid record as a tutor, a chance to work in the public schools.
Its leaders also can, the Kerr saga reveals, force a teacher candidate to stop blogging. Why? Because they have no defined policy on blogging. In Kerr’s case, they decided for themselves that she was stepping over some ill-defined line, and were careful to share their concerns with Kerr’s potential employers. In my view, that was so she would have less chance to land a job if they failed to deny her a credential.
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