Commentary: The intellectual freedom that made public colleges great is under threat

Keith E. Whittington
The Washington Post

Excerpt: Faculty members at public universities are under fire in numerous states: They face a serious and growing threat to the academic freedom that lets them choose their research topics and determine what happens in their classrooms without politicians looking over their shoulders.

Across the nation, state legislatures are proposing laws to limit the teaching of certain viewpoints on campus, curb the tenure system or otherwise blur the already thin line between higher education and state politics. If states continue down this path, they will undercut the excellence of their own institutions of higher education, some of which currently can be counted among the best universities in the world. They could send these institutions into a downward spiral, as the gap expands between the intellectual freedom secured at private universities and what is on offer at public universities.