Latest News and Commentary: National

January 17, 2023
By Karen Brulliard
The Washington Post

Excerpt: Across a polarized nation, governing bodies are restricting — and sometimes even halting — public comment to counter what elected officials describe as an unprecedented level of invective, misinformation and disorder from citizens when they step to the microphone. As contentious social issues roil once-sleepy town council and school board gatherings, some officials say allowing people to have their say is poisoning meetings and thwarting the ability to get business done.

January 16, 2023
By Harvey Silverglate

Excerpt: The recent tumult surrounding the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion reminds us that the American body politic is closely and intensively divided on many contentious political, social, religious, cultural, and economic issues. One of those issues is the question of whether affirmative action, particularly in college admissions, passes constitutional muster. 

January 15, 2023
By Alia Wong
USA Today

Excerpt: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's decision to overhaul the board of trustees at a progressive public college was his latest move in a larger movement against so-called "woke" education. 

The shake-up is part of a years-long effort by DeSantis and a growing contingent of conservative leaders to chip away at what they view as higher education's liberal bias. They're shepherding legislation targeting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and critical race theory, including bills explicitly addressing colleges through provisions that would reduce tenure. They're shaping higher education in more subtle ways, too, including through philanthropic giving. 

January 13, 2023
By Jennifer Ruth
Academe Blog

Excerpt: For the Hamline president, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) come before academic freedom. What do the majority of faculty think? Of course it’s very hard to generalize, and nobody can say with a super-high degree of confidence. My guess would be that most faculty (and administrators, for that matter) take both academic freedom and the need to think through how to reform higher education so that it is truly in service of a multiracial and multicultural democracy very seriously—and hope that the two priorities are reconcilable.

January 12, 2023
By Tom Nichols
The Atlantic

Excerpt: Professor López Prater’s contract has not been renewed, and she will not be returning to the classroom. The university strenuously denies that she was fired. Of course, colleges let adjuncts go all the time, often reluctantly. But this, to me, seems like something more.

I began my 35-year teaching career in the late 1980s and was once a tenure-track faculty member at an elite college, where I was one of a handful of registered Republicans among a mostly liberal faculty. So I think I have a pretty clear idea of what goes on in classrooms. I know what academic freedom means. I think I know what “fired” looks like, and it seems to me that López Prater was fired—a conclusion that seems especially likely in the wake of a highly defensive public letter the school’s president, Fayneese Miller, wrote about the whole business.

January 11, 2023
By James Moore, Spiro Pantazatos, Kursat Pekgoz
James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

Excerpt: Catherine E. Lhamon is the current Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Despite the unassuming title, her position wields enormous power. The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, at her sole discretion, can cut off federal funding (and has threatened to do so) from any recipient educational institution she deems unwoke or patriarchal. Lhamon once quipped about how she enjoys carrying the “big stick of the federal government” to further her agenda.

Now that the Biden administration has put Lhamon back in power, what is she up to?

January 11, 2023
By Amna Khalid

Excerpt: Something happened, right here in Minnesota, that I find deeply offensive. On October 6, during a class on Islamic art that was part of a global survey course in art history, a professor at Hamline University offered students an optional exercise: Analyze and discuss a 14th-century Islamic painting that depicts the Archangel Gabriel delivering to the Prophet Muhammad his first Quranic revelation.

This case offends me on many levels. As a professor, I am appalled by the senior administration’s decision to dismiss the instructor and pander to the students who claim to have been “harmed.” This kind of “inclusive excellence” permits DEI administrators to ride roughshod over faculty knowledge.