Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mitch Daniels Sought To Censor Public Universities, Professors

The Associated Press has a fascinating look at former Gov. Mitch Daniels' efforts to interfere with what's taught by university professors -- while he was still governor of Indiana.

It's all the more interesting as he's now the head of Purdue University.

Here's some of what it says:
"Emails obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request show Daniels requested that historian and anti-war activist Howard Zinn's writings be banned from classrooms and asked for a "cleanup" of college courses. In another exchange, the Republican talks about cutting funding for a program run by a local university professor who was one of his sharpest critics."

"Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center, said it's not unusual for governors or mayors to denounce art, music or popular culture. But he said he couldn't find any other examples of governors trying to censor political opponents. 'What sets this apart is what appears to be a back-channel effort by the governor to limit access to ideas,' said Paulson, also dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University. 'Under the First Amendment, the government is prohibited from trying to suppress expression with which it disagrees.'"

"In a separate round of emails in April 2009, Daniels called for an audit and possible funding cut for a program run by Charles Little, executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association and a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Little had been highly critical of Daniels' education overhaul in internal emails and he often critiqued the governor's performance at public meetings."

"'It is astonishing and shocking that such a person is now the head of a major research university, making decisions about the curriculum, that one painfully suspects embodies the same ignorance and racism these comments embody,' said Cary Nelson, an English professor at the University of Illinois who served six years as president of the American Association of University Professors."

and, finally
"Purdue University Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Krach, who hired Daniels last year, did not return an email seeking comment. Trustees are scheduled to receive a six-month assessment from Daniels this week."

Well, this Indianapolis Observer isn't surprised and muses that Purdue will suffer both academically and intellectually by choosing such an unworthy successor to France Córdova.

Great followup to the story by the IBJ's Lou Harry: Zinn and the art of historical revisionism
(And, major props for the terrific headline!)

Read what Sheila Kennedy has to say on the topic here: The Saga Continues.
Among her comments: " The Governor was NOT within his rights to dictate what can and cannot be taught in public school or university classrooms, and certainly not within his rights to try to cut off funding for a respected academic program because the scholar in charge of that program had been critical of his education policies."

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