Ohio is the latest state to consider an “Academic Bill of Rights” according to an Associated Press report today. A bill pending in the Republican-controlled legislature “would prohibit public and private college professors from presenting opinions as fact or penalizing students for expressing their views. Professors would not be allowed to introduce controversial material unrelated to the course,” according to the AP.
All well and good in theory, I suppose. But how is something like this going to be enforced? Given that it is binding on private schools, that potentially puts the Ohio government in the business of regulating the contents of theology classes in church-sponsored schools. Something tells me this isn’t what the sponsors have in mind. Here’s what the AP tells us about the thinking of the bill’s sponsor:
“I see students coming out [of college] having gone in without any ideological leanings one way or another, coming out with an indoctrination of a lot of left-wing issues,” said bill sponsor Sen. Larry Mumper, a former high school teacher whose Republican party controls the Legislature.
Mumper said he is concerned universities are not teaching the values held by taxpaying parents and students.
He questioned why lawmakers should approve funding for universities with “professors who would send some students out in the world to vote against the very public policy that their parents have elected us for.”
Conservative supporter of the legislation David Horowitz claims this isn’t ideological at all. AP quotes Horowitz: “They can be a good professor, liberal or conservative, provided they pursue an educational mission and not a political agenda.”
Okay, so if this isn’t narrowly ideological, Larry Mumper’s quote suggests that it’s narrowly partisan. Republicans don’t want state universities producing Democrats. Hard to tell which is worse.
Bills like these are pushed by an organization called “Students for Academic Freedom.” Let’s see what they’re all about…