What are the characteristics of a good teacher? Many would cite qualities such as mastery of the relevant subjects and high academic standards. Others might stress a positive attitude and engaging classroom manner.
For most people, political opinions are likely to rank low among these priorities. According to a report in EdWeek, though, that’s what an increasing number of public schools are emphasizing. Adopting a practice that’s already widespread in higher education, many districts are now considering applicants’ “cultural competency.” In other words, they’re making progressive political views a requirement of the job.
To be fair, advocates of such efforts don’t see it that way. In their view, interview questions about “diversity, equity, inclusion, empathy, and students’ social-emotional needs” aren’t political at all. They’re baseline ways to ensure teachers are prepared to work with the students particular schools enroll. And that’s a good thing to want to ensure: When around a third of new teachers leave the profession within three years and schools in low-income communities face higher rates of attrition, it’s reasonable to look for evidence at point of hiring that they know what they’re getting into — and have some ideas about how to deal with it.