Latest News and Commentary: National

August 3, 2022
By Torrence Banks
Miami Herald

The start of classes this month will have some educators looking over their shoulders. Teachers say headline-grabbing measures adopted by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have moved the culture war into the classroom. The above initiatives, respectively, seek to gauge whether universities have become leftist bastions, limit discussions of sexuality in the classroom and prevent critical race theory from creeping into the curriculum.

August 3, 2022
By Emma Camp
Reason Magazine

The American Council of Education filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, arguing that race-conscious admissions policies are protected by the First Amendment.

The trade group, which says its member schools "educate two out of every three students in all accredited, degree-granting U.S. institutions," claims that if the Court prevents universities from considering race in admissions, it would chill the speech of students who want to discuss their racial or ethnic background in their applications. The group further argues that considering race in admissions is an expression of academic freedom.

August 2, 2022
By PEN America Press Release
PEN America

Amid an unparalleled wave of attacks on academic freedom and public education nationwide – including the introduction of nearly 200 educational gag orders and the adoption of gag order policies in 19 states – PEN America, in partnership with the Washington Post’s Made by History section, is launching a new Freedom to Learn op-ed series.

Made by History is an independent editorial section of the Post featuring content from academic historians on current events. Edited and published by the Made by History editorial team and sponsored by PEN America, the Freedom to Learn series will provide historical context for the current assault on public education in the United States and elsewhere.

August 2, 2022
By Alicia Hawkins
UCLA Newsroom

UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program has created an innovative project to track and analyze legislative, regulatory and administrative efforts to block or undermine the teaching of a more complete history of the United States in schools across the country.

“The project was created to help people understand the breadth of the attacks on the ability to speak truthfully about race and racism through the campaigns against CRT,” said Taifha Natalee Alexander, project director of CRT Forward.

August 2, 2022
By Sabrina Conza
Foundation for Individual Rights in Expression

The University of California, San Diego, is the most recent university to engage in the concerning trend of hosting racially segregated campus events. Next month, UCSD is hosting a three-day orientation program called the “Black, Latinx, and Native American Family Orientation,” which the university says is meant to provide “tailored programming for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and their families.” Only students from those racial backgrounds may apply.

Although this may seem positive — providing minority students the opportunity to participate in an orientation with other minority students — racial segregation of educational programs is illegal and immoral. FIRE has called on the university to ensure no student is excluded from educational programming because of their race.

August 1, 2022
By Katie Anthony

Excerpt: A Florida school district is clarifying its rules around discussion of same-sex relationships as teachers are grappling with a new state law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis which limits how teachers can talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in their classrooms. Orange County Public Schools released a memo on Monday with guidance for teachers around topics like sexual orientation.

The memo said the law prohibits "instruction" on those topics from kindergarten through third grade, but doesn't ban teachers from talking about their partners.

August 1, 2022

Excerpt: Attorneys and advocates discussed free speech on college campuses and how cancel culture and political divides have impacted it. They also spoke about legal options available to students who believe their First Amendment rights to free speech have been violated. The Heritage Foundation hosted the discussion.

August 1, 2022
By Brighton McConnell

Excerpt: A recent study across eight UNC System campuses, including UNC-Chapel Hill, revealed students’ perceptions of freedom of expression in the classroom environment and interest in hearing others’ ideological perspectives.

The UNC Board of Trustees received a presentation on the report during a Wednesday committee meeting, which detailed a survey of several thousand students at UNC, UNC-Charlotte, Appalachian State and more. The report was led by three UNC faculty members and a UNC-Greensboro professor: Timothy Ryan, Mark McNeilly, Jennifer Larson and Andrew Engelhardt. Ryan, an associate professor in UNC’s Department of Political Science, said the group used a sampling technique that randomly selected classes that students took and asked specific questions to avoid any generalizations of experiences.

July 31, 2022
By Claire Moses
New York Times

Excerpt: Book-banning attempts have grown in the U.S. over the past few years from relatively isolated battles to a broader effort aimed at works about sexual and racial identity. Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth Harris cover the publishing industry. I spoke to them about what’s behind this trend.

July 30, 2022
By Wyatt Myskow
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: Western Kentucky University’s Board of Regents voted unanimously on Friday not to fire a professor whom students had accused of saying during a class on diversity that brains are wired differently based on race and that African American students learn better by chanting and singing.

Jeanine Huss, a tenured professor in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences who has worked at the university since 2005, was accused of incompetence, according to the student newspaper. But her lawyer argued on Friday, during a special board meeting where her case was heard, that the university was threatening her First Amendment rights and academic freedom, and had failed to properly follow the Faculty Handbook after she filed a grievance when she was suspended.