Pa. House Bill HR117 just passed. It pertains to acadmeic freedom at PA schools.
It is interesting since it was an effort by students who felt the bias many professors have. They also feel it limits their education. In fact these students claim they are routinely graded unfairly if the do not share the bias of the professor.
Anybody have a strong opinion on this. Many think bias does not exist in Higher Education. The PA. legislature thought otherwise I suppose.
Victory for Academic Freedom in Pennsylvania
Dear Students and Supporters,
In a tremendous victory for our academic freedom campaign, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Tuesday night passed HR 177, a resolution promoting intellectual diversity and academic freedom for all public universities and colleges in the state. The legislation, which was inspired by our Academic Bill of Rights, passed the House by a decisive vote of 108-90.
The passage of this legislation is a major victory not only for Pennsylvania?s students and educators, but also nationally as legislation continues to be considered and debated in over a dozen states. This battle has been closely watched by both supporters and opponents in other states, and will serve as a benchmark for what can be achieved by students who refuse to take the abuse of their rights lying down and legislators who have the courage to take on the educational establishment in defense of intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas in academia.
Students for Academic Freedom extends our gratitude to the courageous students and legislators who helped to pass HR 177 in Pennsylvania, despite frequent criticism and deceitful tactics from those on the other side of this issue. In particular, our thanks goes out to Rep. Gib Armstrong who was the principal sponsor and force behind the legislation, and Speaker of the Pennsylvania House John Perzel, who enabled the bill?s passage through many hours of raucous debate.
As has been the case in nearly every state where legislation is under consideration, opposition to the resolution from opponents of our cause?the American Association of University Professors, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and all their allies in local Pennsylvania media?was fierce. The success of HR 177 despite the array of critics poised against it was possible because their position in opposition to academic freedom is indefensible. This victory reveals the cracks in their insupportable convictions.
In an announcement of the Pennsylvania vote penned by SAF Chairman David Horowitz, he recounts recent events which show that opposition to our movement is losing its footing. Just two weeks ago, the American Council on Education along with 27 additional higher education organizations including the American Association of University Professors which has mounted an extensive effort to counter our academic freedom campaign released a statement affirming several of the key principles of the Academic Bill of Rights. Among these were the ideas that ?intellectual pluralism and academic freedom are central principles of American higher education? and ?neither students nor faculty should be disadvantaged or evaluated on the basis of their political opinions.?
Up to this point, the educational establishment had denied the existence of a problem and had strenuously argued that existing academic freedom protections were sufficient. Their acknowledgement of these central principles of the Academic Bill of Rights represented a complete reversal from their earlier position.
?The Pennsylvania resolution accelerates a tide that has begun to flow in the direction of academic freedom across the nation,? Horowitz wrote. ?The Pennsylvania bill will go a long way in making sure that these noble sentiments are given practical implementation by university administrations.?
This practical implementation will begin almost immediately with resolution?s formation of a Select Committee to ?examine, study and inform? the legislature on the state of academic freedom on Pennsylvania?s public college and university campuses. The issues to be examined by this committee include whether ?students are graded based on academic merit without regard for ideological views? and whether ?academic freedom and the right to explore and express independent views is available to and freely practiced by faculty and students.?
The committee will be empowered to ?hold hearings, take testimony, and conduct investigations within this Commonwealth as necessary.?
While we are celebrating this great victory in Pennsylvania, we must also remember that our work in this state is far from over. As the committee begins its work of examining higher education in Pennsylvania, it will be crucial for students who have experienced abuses of their academic freedom or partisan discrimination in the classroom to inform the committee about their experiences so they can fairly judge the extent to which academic freedom is protected in the state?s institutions of higher education.
If you are a student in Pennsylvania, or any other state in the union, who has experienced a violation of your academic freedom, please email me about your experience at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org or submit a report to our online complaint site. The legislators who form this committee cannot know what is happening on your campuses, unless you tell them about it. As students, you are in a unique and powerful position to see the true state of higher education from inside the ivory tower and to demand reforms to more fully protect your academic freedom. Take advantage of this vantage point to inform SAF and legislators in your states about the true state of academic freedom on your campuses
This was a press release by the Students for Academic Freedom.