Meiers: Keep 'em Dumb

Academic Bill of Rights

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

George Orwell would have loved it.

It's also known as Bill S6336 in Albany.

The justification offered (you'll probably need to type in S6336 for the Bill #, and click "Sponsors Memo") for this Bill includes:

Every institution of higher learning has a duty to promote intellectual

diversity on campus. Too often, students find many college classes

biased or one-sided. The ideas of all students and faculty members

should be treated with respect, and all ideas deserve to be represented

on campus.

Professors and administrators have an obligation to make students aware

of a broad range of viewpoints and perspectives. They are not hired to

teach only students who share their political or philosophical views,

and professors should never force their own views upon their students.

The classroom is not and should never be a soapbox for a professor to

promote his or her point of view.

The Academic Bill of Rights has been introduced as legislation in a

number of state legislatures, and a few states have already adopted a

form of the Academic Bill of Rights. In one of the most recent examples,

the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives -- in July 2005 --

passed a resolution supporting the principles of the Academic Bill of

So, according to this Bill, places of higher education are being overwhelmed by intolerance, bias, and discrimination.

Not in my world. Not at the colleges I attended, the one where I work, nor the ones I've visited. Granted, I haven't been to Bob Jones University, but as a woman on color, Democrat, and Muslim, I'm smart enough to stay away from lynch mobs.

section A of the bill includes:
     5    a.  A  learning environment in which the student has access to a broad
6 range of serious scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects the
7 student studies in which, in the humanities, the social sciences and the
8 arts, the fostering of a plurality of serious scholarly methodologies
9 and perspectives has a significant institutional purpose;
that would include all the psychology theories I had to memorize, learn, dissect and implement, right? Sec 1, A taken care of

section B:
    10    b. To be graded solely on the basis of the student's reasoned  answers
11 and appropriate knowledge of the subjects the student studies and to not
12 be discriminated against on the basis of the student's political or
13 religious beliefs;
You know... never once did I have to share my political beliefs and the times a student shared them with me as usually when they wanted to know if they could still join College Democrats (who I advise) if they weren't a Democrat. And, yes, anyone can join. And as an Academic Complaints Advisor, I've never had a student claim bias based on their beliefs.

section C:
    14    c. That the student's academic freedom and the  quality  of  education
15 will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce
16 controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no
17 relation to the subject of study and that serves no legitimate pedagog-
18 ical purpose;
Again, can't say that this has ever been ground for filing a complaint against a faculty member.

Section d:
    19    d. That the freedom of  speech,  freedom  of  expression,  freedom  of
20 assembly and freedom of conscience of students and student organizations
21 are not infringed upon by administrators, student government organiza-
22 tions or institutional policies, rules or procedures; and
OK, I haven't faced this though the current rulings limiting the Freedom of Press at public institutions scare and anger me. It would seem contrary to this bill, but because the rulings targeted "liberal" college media is it probably OK.

I could continue addressing ever section of this Bill, but you can and should read it for yourself.

What's interesting is the most frequently cited justification for the Bill is not cited in the text. The "problem" with higher education is not that any of the things explained in the Bill are actually happening, but rather there are just too many more Democrats working in higher education then are Republicans.

So, could someone please sponsor a "Financial Bill of Rights," "Media Bill of Rights," "Healthcare Bill of Rights," and "Congressional Bill of Rights." In all those places, Republicans probably outnumber Democrats and I'd like to see everyone's rights fairly protected.

Oh, wait.. there I go again, another crazy liberal educator forcing my views on everyone else.

As if sitting at my keyboard, typing, magically changes everyone's opinions.

But that's exactly why the neo-cons want to limit speech... they think that expose means conversion.

What they fail to grasp is that the best college students learn the skills to listen, evaluate, judge, and choose so they can become contributing adult members of their world rather than drones waiting for Big Brother to send orders.

Why is this such an important matter? One of the co-sponsors of this bill is State Senator Raymond A. Meier who is now running for Congress. There are numerous centers of higher education in the NY 24th Congressional District, but the Bill Meiers sponsored would apply to all centers in NY. And there is an effort to apply this nationwide. Take a look at this article for more information.

Ironically, academicians are sometimes the wrong ones to talk about the effort to stifle learning on campuses. Maybe they are too close to the bullseye or more likely, they see it in their unique perspective. Certainly, the discussion can include theories of learning, methodology, and communications. But at it's most basic level, this Bill is to stop learning and create an atmosphere that limits teaching.

The new Republican plan for Higher Education: Unless they were born with a silver spoon, keep 'em dumb and let them flip burgers.

1 comment:

YouGoMike said...

With the kinds of jobs Ray and everybody else in Oneida County brought here, they might want to sponsor a similar bill for Hamburger U. instead.


I would love to see some of your poetry. Soon?