Friday, January 28, 2005

Dumbed down in Ohio

Legislation that would restrict what college and university professors could say in their classrooms was introduced wednesday in that fine electoral state of republican red Ohio.

Apparently there are several other states where similar bills attacking higher education have been proposed or are beging hotly debated right now. Of course, we have to acknowledge that these efforts are coming from republicans. I wonder if they would attack those of us who were oppressed in college by the flaming conservative economist? Or attacked in class because we did not conform to slavish faith in the economic determinism of capitalism.

One has to wonder how soon they will begin burning the books. We all know that "tha tinking is bad." Besides unless you are reading from the "accepted" list, you are introducing yourself up to new ideas and experiences and only the heartless secular humanist does that.

But don't take my word for it:

Marion Sen. Larry A. Mumpers "academic bill of rights for higher education" would prohibit instructors at public or private universities from "persistently" discussing controversial issues in class or from using their classes to push political, ideological, religious or anti-religious views.

Senate Bill 24 also would prohibit professors from discriminating
against students based on their beliefs and keep universities from
hiring, firing, promoting or giving tenure to instructors based on their beliefs.

Mumper, a Republican, said many professors undermine the values of their students because "80 percent or so of them (professors) are Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists" who attempt to indoctrinate students.

"These are young minds that havent had a chance to form their own
opinions," Mumper said. "Our colleges and universities are still filled with some of the 60s and 70s profs that were the anti-American group. Theyve gotten control of how to give people tenure and so the colleges continue to move in this direction."

Joan McLean, a political-science professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, said Mumpers legislation is misguided and would have a chilling effect on the free-flowing debate that is a hallmark of democracy.

"This is not the kind of democracy we think were spreading when we hear President Bushs words. What were celebrating is our ability to not control information."

Besides, McLean said, who would define what issues could not be discussed?

The language of Mumpers bill comes from a 2003 booklet by conservative commentator David Horowitz that lays out how students can persuade universities to adopt the "bill of rights." The booklet says it is "dedicated to restoring academic freedom and educational values to Americas institutions of higher learning."

The issue has gone national.

Horowitz created Students for Academic Freedom, a group based in
Washington that has chapters on 135 campuses, to promote his views.

On the other side, the American Association of University Professors, which has thousands of members at hundreds of campuses, argues that eliminating controversial issues from courses waters down academic freedoms.

Mumper said hes been investigating the issue for months and has heard of an Ohio student who said she was discriminated against because she supported Bush for president.

"I think the bill asks that colleges and universities be fair in their approach to their education of students," Mumper said. "They need to have their rights defended and need to be respected by faculty and administrators."

In a Kenyon College publication, President S. Georgia Nugent called Horowitzs thinking "a severe threat" to academic freedom.

"I see this so-called bill of rights, the platform that he has
constructed, as one that would explicitly introduce into college and university appointments a kind of political litmus test," she said.

Mumper said he will "push this all the way" so that its approved by either the legislature or by individual universities.

When a similar proposal was considered in the Colorado legislature last year, it was withdrawn after state universities agreed to some of its principles. The issue also has been debated in Indiana and considered in Congress.

Joe? Joe McCarthy? Hell, I thought that you were dead. Oh.

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