Legislation would take away profs' alleged bully pulpits
Mark Brunswick, Star Tribune
A national movement that supporters say protects college students from indoctrination from professors but that opponents say stifles debate and promotes a conservative agenda made its way to Minnesota on Wednesday. Two legislators unveiled legislation that they called the "Academic Bill of Rights."
Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, [Blogeditor's note: Sen. Bachman is also behind the proposed constitutional amendment in Minnesota to permanently ban gay marriage] and Rep. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, said their bill would require the state's publicly funded colleges and universities to adopt polices that would mandate that professors not use their classrooms to promote their personal political or ideological beliefs. It also says that students would not be punished for disagreeing with their instructors' politics.
While Bachmann, who has announced that she is a candidate for Congress, said the law would apply across the political spectrum, the focus nationally has been complaints from conservative students that left-wing professors have attempted to use their classrooms to indoctrinate young minds with liberal propaganda.
At a morning news conference, speakers included students and professors who talked of feeling punished for their conservative views. No speakers complained about conservative instructors.
Lawmakers in 21 other states have introduced similar bills, part of a national movement spearheaded by Students for Academic Freedom, a Washington-based student network founded by conservative activist David Horowitz.
Horowitz spoke at the news conference, saying that professors imposing their political ideologies on their students was unprofessional.
"You don't go into a doctor's office and expect to get a political lecture or see on his office door cartoons bashing John Kerry or bashing George Bush," he said.
Critics of such measures, including the American Association of University Professors, have said the bills could stifle debate and questioned whether its supporters had ulterior motives, such as wanting more conservative professors.
The AAUP website includes a strong statement opposing such legislation. "Proposed bills in a handful of state legislatures challenge this fundamental concept that higher education, in this society, is and should be free of government control or interference," it says.
Mark Brunswick is at
Bold mine. Sen. Bachmann is an idiot. From where does she hear that professors use their classrooms to promote their personal political or ideological beliefs? The students? Students who don't come to class or read the material? And they feel punished? I would guess that kids that get a lower grade do so because they aren't really THINKING. Not that they disagreed with the professor.