Collateral Damage in Social Work

The release of NAS’s report, The Scandal of Social Work Education, has prompted follow-up reporting in the press and some reflection by a former student.

George Will devoted his 14 October 2007 column to the report, noting that, “In the month since the NAS released its study, none of the schools covered by it has contested its findings.”

Bruce Rushton, a reporter for The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois) followed up on a local angle. The NAS report cites what happened to Sandra Fuiten, who dropped out of the social work program at the University of Illinois at Springfield when required by a professor to lobby state legislators on behalf of causes to which she had moral objections. One professor told her that it was impossible for her to be both a social worker and an opponent of abortion. Rushton picked up the story from Will and tracked down Sandra Fuiten, who stood by her account. As Rushton explains, Fuiten is now deep in debt, ill, and living on disability.

The NAS report opened an old wound for Peter L. Valunas, who currently tends a bar in Orlando, Florida. Back in 1989, he was a student in the bachelor of social work program at the University of South Florida, about to graduate, except for an internship requirement. Things went awry -- so awry that he is now “barred for life” from taking any social work courses at the University of South Florida. He tells his story here.

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