This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Thought police on campus

A George Orwell style visit may be coming to a campus near you.

It's all part of a campaign headed by conservative activist David Horowitz and his Students for Academic Freedom, founded circa 2003. The argument they are presenting is that college students can't safely express conservative views on campus without facing academic retribution. Horowitz wants a law to protect students and safeguard their grievance process.

So-called "academic freedom" legislation has already been introduced in 14 state houses and in Congress. So do we teach exciting, new research, or play it safe and collect that pay check? This "Thought Police" effort would handcuff college faculty or at least make them think twice about introducing controversial material for discussion.

In the U.S. House this week Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner, chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee claimed a breakthrough in getting these tougher guidelines included in the Higher Education Act. While the news release sounds like posturing it is worrisome.

This is another example of the Republican name game, the "Academic Freedom Act", which would do just the opposite. It really needs to be called the "Conservative Education Only Requirement Act."

The bigger problems in American colleges and universities have to do with inflated grades and a failed commitment by professors to update outdated teaching methods and materials. That's where the discussion and effort needs to be focused.