Sunday, October 14, 2007

Enforcers of Left Wing Orthodoxy

George Will has an outstanding and important column in today's Washington Post regarding the extent to which some social work programs at public universities forsake real academic work in favor of "ideological advocacy." He cites specific instances of students being required to participate in legislative lobbying on issues favored by their professors and being disciplined for their political views:

The [National Association of Scholars] study says that at Rhode Island College's School of Social Work, a conservative student, William Felkner, received a failing grade in a course requiring students to lobby the state legislature for a cause mandated by the department. The NAS study also reports that Sandra Fuiten abandoned her pursuit of a social-work degree at the University of Illinois at Springfield after the professor, in a course that required students to lobby the legislature on behalf of positions prescribed by the professor, told her that it is impossible to be both a social worker and an opponent of abortion.


Anonymous ejackson said...

Here is the Response from NASW's Executive Director that was sent to the Washington Post.

Code of Concern

Dear Washington Post Editors:

Conservative columnist George F. Will has taken public umbrage with the National Association of Social Workers’ (NASW) Code of Ethics and its mandate that adherents advocate for social justice. In his review of a National Association of Scholars report, Mr. Will ignores the context in which professional education and training occurs—for all professions. This criticism misrepresents social work education and is a disservice to our members and the clients they serve.

Social workers are committed to solving social problems while helping people improve their quality of life; fairness is a defining characteristic of the profession. Like all citizens of a participatory democracy, it is critical for social work students to develop the skills necessary to advocate within available legal and political structures.

Social work students learn to use advocacy for the benefit of individuals, families and populations who are most vulnerable to the unresolved social problems of the day. Services for veterans, children, chronically ill persons, the elderly, and struggling families are improved by social work advocacy.

Members of NASW hold a diverse array of opinions on many social issues, including abortion and homosexuality as mentioned in Will’s column. However, professional social workers are united in their commitment to respecting the rights of clients to access services and expand options available to them. Social workers do not apologize for caring about people who are marginalized by society, nor do we apologize for holding members of our profession to high standards.

Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, MSW, MPH
Executive Director
National Association of Social Workers

1:55 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

Caring about the marginalized is one thing; requiring advocacy on issues that by your own admission generate disagreement within the profession is quite something else.

To the extent that your organization permits, much less encourages, that sort of coercion, you disserve your own profession far beyond Mr. Will's capacity to do so.

4:43 PM  

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