There are many reasons for the lamentable state of education in the United States today, but perhaps none is greater than our schools of education.

In the 1990s, the fad of multiculturalism took hold, and today has grown to epidemic proportions. Teachers-to-be were forced to learn about this ethnic group, that impoverished group, this sexually anomalous group, that under-represented group, etc. — all under the rubric of “Culturally Responsive Education.” That means “understanding that one’s way of thinking, behaving, and being is influenced by race, ethnicity, social class, and language.” Prospective teachers are required to examine their own “sociocultural identities” and the inequalities in schools and society that support “institutionalized discrimination,” which preserves a “privileged society based on social class and skin color.”

These ideas, incidentally, are not presented as theories, but as facts that are not open to question.

Education schools are thus indoctrinating their students in a tendentious idea that encourages them to see all social problems as stemming from “discrimination” and “privilege.” Instead of devoting their time to learning how to teach students fractions or paragraphing, teacher candidates are supposed to inspect and confront any negative attitudes they might have toward cultural groups. This boils down to saying that the dominant culture needs to understand that it has been oppressing everyone else and must make amends.

Among the offshoots of multiculturalism is “anti-racist math,” which has now been embraced in a number of school districts. In Newton, Mass., for example, the top objective for the district’s math teachers is to teach “respect for human differences.” Students should “live out the system wide core value of ‘respect for human differences’ by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors.” The problem is that you can do all of that to perfection and not learn a smidgen of mathematics.

In 2008, education professor Jay Greene showed how bad the multiculturalism problem had become. Writing in City Journal, he and a research assistant explored the number of multicultural classes offered in our teachers’ colleges. They counted the number of course titles and descriptions that “… contained the words ‘multiculturalism,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusion,’ and variants thereof,” and then compared those with the number that used variants of the word ‘math.’” Greene computed a ‘multiculturalism-to-math ratio’ — a rough indicator of the relative importance of social goals to academic skills in ed schools. He found that the average education school offered 82 percent more courses featuring social goals than featuring mathematics. In California, 30 percent of the students entering the formerly vaunted University of California system now need remedial help. For the Cal State schools, 60 percent of the students need remediation, and for the city and community colleges a whopping 90 percent need remediation.

This means that we are not educating children properly in our K-12 systems. The lack of rigor and misplaced focus in education schools bear much of the responsibility.

Can our education schools be turned around?

Arizona State University, with the largest undergraduate teacher prep program in the country, has just unveiled a “radical” new program, in which students must demonstrate mastery of specific teaching skills as measured by a popular teaching framework. ASU is using the Teacher Advancement Program, a model run by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

After examining the description of this new approach to teacher education, I must say that it looks solid. Rather than using the standard “touchy-feely” methods, the program employs objective measures to evaluate teachers. It remains to be seen whether the entrenched “progressive” forces will kill off or subvert the Teacher Advancement Program, but it is a challenge to the status quo.

Most of our education schools have been getting away with malpractice that would not be tolerated in any other profession. Unless we start doing something radically different from what we have been doing, we will continue to turn out teachers who mis-educate the children of America.

Our education schools have to bear much of the blame for the lamentable state of education in the United States today.