Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Steve Head, a Man for All Seasons, Needs Legal Advice

I have previously blogged about Steve Head's courageous pro se lawsuit against the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, NCATE.

Head had run afoul of the dispositional assessment requirement at San Jose State University College of Education (SJSUCE). His multicultural instructor (sic) told him that he was unfit to teach because he defended the United States in class. Much like an incident at Brooklyn College several years ago involving student Goldwyn and Professor Parmar, SJSUCE used quack "dispositional theory" to fail Head. Head then sued.

Head brought a pro se case to federal court through a section 1983 lawsuit. California State University (CSU), of which SJSUCE is a part, filed a motion to dismiss. The federal San Francisco Northern California District Judge William Alsup agreed with CSU's right to throw out students based on dispositional assessment. Judge Alsup threw out Head's case.

Since then, Head appealed, still pro se, to the 9th Circuit. The briefs (opening, CSU's response, and Head's reply) are filed as of July 2.

Head's is the first federal case and first federal appellate case to consider the constitutionality of using outright quackery, namely dispositions theory, to discriminate against a student. The fight illustrates that the problem with public schools lies partly in their political and legal regulation and partly in the judiciary's willingness to kowtow to their political power, to include NCATE's.

This is a first-impression case that defines the limits of permitted, non-disruptive, classroom speech that challenges the inculcation/indoctrination divide at a time when it is most important in our national life.

Steve's fight is not over multiculturism but rather the use of multiculturalist rhetoric as ideological litmus. Steve's "F" grade was not based on his failure to learn the required materials but due to his professor's dislike for his thoughts, which are entirely mainstream.

The 9th circuit has a reputation for being liberal but also a reputation for defending First Amendment rights such as those Head claims. Typically, pro se appeals in the 9th circuit are assigned to a pro se office in which they are quietly sabotaged by forbidding the pro se litigant to appear before the appellate bar, and instead substituting an in-house lawyer to make oral arguments ostensibly on behalf of the pro se litigant. These steps are implemented in a way engineered to sabotage the case for the sake of reducing 9th circuit caseload and of kowtowing to powerful interests such as teachers' unions and the educationist establishment. What does Judge Alsup care if the schools have let our children down?

Lawyers shy away from representing such cases, I suppose, because they know that if they ever attempted to argue effectively on the record in oral argument, they would run the risk of being blacklisted by judges. In any case Mr. Head finds himself in the situation of having fought CSU legally to a standstill in federal appellate court over whether dispositions, which lack validation, violate first amendment rights of education students.

Head is now in search of a lawyer to represent him to take the heat. He is also looking for amicus briefs and for help with legal fees which he has largely borne himself in the last 3 1/2 years in his fight for better quality public education and students' constitutional rights.

Those interested in helping him may contact him via my e-mail address (mailto:

No comments: