UA’s Emancipatory Education Proposal

The University of Arizona (UA) has just floated a proposal to establish a program for graduate students aimed at sharpening their hatred for America. UA is, of course, a public university, so Arizona taxpayers are being asked to pay for an effort to turn future leaders of the country into revolutionists. It is called “Emancipatory Education.” It would emancipate its graduates from common sense and loyalty to their society.

The newly proposed program at UA is a graduate minor in Emancipatory Education—in other words, a minor in nothing but radical activism in the mode of Paulo Freire, housed in the College of Education. UA, if it approves this new minor, would climb into the vanguard of the barbarians seeking to destroy higher education. Only a few institutions in American higher education, such as San Jose State University, have so nakedly sought to institutionalize “emancipatory education”—the explicit replacement of education with radical political activism.

My colleague John Sailer provides a good analysis of the proposed Emancipatory Education graduation minor. Tenured radicals used to try to camouflage their activism. Now, they don’t bother. The proposal openly states that the courses will include topics such as:

  • Race, racialization, and antiracism;
  • Antiblackness;
  • Indigenous methodologies;
  • Activist- and action-oriented theorizing and research methods;
  • Critical and postmodern (and decolonial) approaches to understanding gender;
  • Liberatory models of education across K-12 and postsecondary contexts;
  • Migration, borders, nationality, and Indigeneity as they influence education; and
  • Critical approaches to disability and its resultant effects on education
  • Culturally-responsive and culturally-sustaining pedagogical and organizational praxis
  • How to use writing as a tool to convey such knowledge and to move beyond writing to involve multiple modes of research and pedagogy to access and communicate liberatory knowledge production and implementation of practice.
  • The ways in which each of the above topics impacts and can inform leadership and programming in K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, particularly regarding the preparation for and transition into and through college.

The catalogue of possible classes includes Whiteness and Education, Introduction to Critical Race Theory in Education, Activism in Higher Education, Decolonial Thinking, and LGBTQ Children’s Literature.

Emancipatory Education would serve as a sort of utility-infield graduate minor, useful for activists pursuing some other graduate major:

we view the Emancipatory Education program as a particularly appealing option for undergraduates seeking to continue content introduced in our own Leadership and Learning Innovation undergrad program and in a range of other undergraduate programs in the social sciences, humanities, business majors focusing on management, and ethnic and cultural studies.

The existence of this proposal for an Emancipatory Education program tells us several important facts, narrowly about the University of Arizona’s College of Education, but more broadly about the university and about higher education as a whole.

  • The University of Arizona’s College of Education already employs teachers and offers courses that provide most of the prospective curriculum of the Emancipatory Education graduate minor.
  • The radical activists proposing this minor expect no pushback from their colleagues within the College of Education, or the University of Arizona as a whole, or from the Arizona Board of Regents, for proposing a program that consists nakedly of radical political activism, and which does not consist at all of true education—the inquiry into truth, rather than the achievement of power.
  • The Emancipatory Education graduate minor is not expected to serve only students interested in education careers, or education leadership, but also students interested in a wide variety of majors and careers.
  • Emancipatory Education, as institutionalized at institutions such as the University of Arizona and San Jose State University, will provide a template for similar programs throughout American higher education, and for a further institutionalization of the career tracks for radical activists parasitic upon higher education.

These first two points tell us that the higher education establishment at the University of Arizona is already so radicalized that it will provide no effective opposition to, and likely will support, the further radicalization of an Emancipatory Education program.

The second two points tell us that the UA’s Emancipatory Education program does not concern just the education leadership training in Arizona—although that is significant enough—but training for all sorts of leadership positions in civil society and government, in Arizona and throughout the country.

The higher education establishment, in Arizona and elsewhere, will rubber-stamp a generic program for radical activism—which, doubtless, will be made mandatory throughout civil society, when the radical entryists gain sufficient power.

The Emancipatory Education program proposal reveals structural rot in higher education—and promises deleterious consequences for the republic as a whole. The program proposal, therefore, provides evidence that America needs structural reform of its education system and of its training for civil society and government.

The College of Education, and the UA as a whole, certainly cannot be trusted with their core functions of educating teachers. Arizona’s Alternate Teaching Certificate is a good first step in removing education schools from the role of educating teachers. NAS’s model Education Licensure Certificate Act would be a good next step. More broadly, the education schools must be removed from any role in education licensure, and from educating any part of America’s education leadership—its principals, its superintendents, its chancellors.

Every aspect of American civil society and government, moreover, must be reformed to ensure that generic education in radical activism provides no qualification for employment.

This is strong medicine. But we know it is necessary because the entire UA higher education establishment, and the entire American higher education establishment, apparently see nothing abnormal in an Emancipatory Education graduate minor.

Such myopics should have nothing to do with educating our children.

Photo by deagreez — Adobe Stock — Asset ID#: 621907655


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