Latest News and Commentary: National

May 8, 2023
By Jonathan Chait
New York Magazine

Excerpt: Republicans have begun saying things about American schools that not long ago would have struck them as peculiar, even insane. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has called schools “a cesspool of Marxist indoctrination.” Former secretary of State Mike Pompeo predicts that “teachers’ unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids,” will “take this republic down.”

More ominously, at every level of government, Republicans have begun to act on these beliefs. Over the past three years, legislators in 28 states have passed at least 71 bills controlling what teachers and students can say and do at school. A wave of library purges, subject-matter restrictions, and potential legal threats against educators has followed.

May 8, 2023
By Kyla Hubbard
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spearheaded a campaign this spring against higher ed’s efforts to create diverse and inclusive campuses, Florida A&M University students were among the most vocal critics.

Friday marked the end of a legislative session in which conservative politicians zeroed in on DEI programs as pernicious forces that they believe must be eradicated from public colleges. This year and last year, lawmakers also aimed to restrict teaching about race.

May 5, 2023
By Megan Zahneis
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: Recently proposed and passed legislation that targets tenure and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts is having a chilling effect on the recruitment of faculty members and administrators in Florida and Texas, where some of the highest profile laws and bills of that type have been undertaken.

In Florida, some candidates’ concerns are so profound that they’re turning down job offers in the state — despite not having other offers, said Andrew Gothard, president of the United Faculty of Florida, a union representing faculty at all 12 of the state’s public universities, a private one, and community colleges.

May 4, 2023
By Amy Lai
Heterodox Academy

Excerpt: Yeonmi Park, a North Korean defector who moved to New York City in 2014, rose to fame and garnered much sympathy from the West after her speech at the One Young World Summit that same year and her subsequent activism. Ever since her critique of American higher education, which compared its “woke” culture to the state propaganda in her country of birth, many have discredited her views as something born out of ignorance about American culture. Worse still, some even accused her of pandering to the right wing for personal gain.


On the basis of this book alone, I conclude that while a reasonable reader might strongly disagree with Park’s arguments, most criticisms levied against her are largely undeserved.

May 4, 2023
By Graham Piro
Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Excerpt: The growing number of colleges and universities requiring faculty members or applicants to submit diversity, equity, and inclusion statements has drawn FIRE’s concern for a number of years. The use of DEI criteria in faculty evaluation and hiring can function as an ideological litmus test, penalizing those with heterodox views on issues of major public concern.

Those concerns are exactly why we commend The Ohio State University for not requiring applicants for either faculty or staff positions to submit diversity statements as a condition of hiring. Last month, the university told us as part of its response to a public records request that its new university-wide hiring practices would not entail requiring candidates to submit diversity statements.

May 3, 2023
By David Jesse
Chronicle of Higher Education

Excerpt: The tales are swapped in conference-hotel hallways or over quiet dinners: controversial speakers attracting rowdy protests, professors drawing fire for an offhand comment during a lecture and then posted online, legislators trying to codify what can and can’t be taught in classrooms.

College presidents know a free-speech controversy is going to burst forth on their campus if it hasn’t already. One week it’s a guest lecturer shouted down at Stanford. The next it’s a Florida bill that would restrict how campuses can teach about race in general-education courses. The next it’s a request for mandatory trigger warnings at Cornell. While in the past a president’s response to such a controversy may have been silence or a carefully worded message, now college leaders are beginning to speak up in more forceful terms.

May 3, 2023
By Richard Kelly
Cornell Review

Excerpt: Trigger warnings were proposed as a means to protect students with PTSD. Not only do they fail to do that, but they undermine the resilience of all Cornellians and risk encouraging cognitive distortions commonly observed in mentally ill patients.

We Cornellians are the leaders of tomorrow. As leaders, we will be forced to come face to face with challenges that involve emotionally-charged ideas relating to race, transgenderism, abortions, suicide, and sexual assault. The degree to which we use our critical thinking skills to solve these problems will affect millions of people, so it is imperative that we show up prepared. Becoming offended, playing the moral high ground, and banning dialogue on certain “untouchable” issues that make us uncomfortable won’t make the problems go away.

May 2, 2023
By Editorial Board
The Washington Post

Excerpt: In March, a Cornell University sophomore and member of the undergraduate student assembly saw a friend become visibly disturbed while reading “The Surrendered,” a Chang-rae Lee novel with a graphic rape scene. So she spearheaded a resolution that “implores all instructors to provide content warnings on the syllabus for any traumatic content that may be discussed.”

What happened next is cause for celebration: The Cornell administration immediately struck down this resolution, a welcome reminder that academic institutions have the power to defend their fundamental values — and are willing to use it.

May 2, 2023
By Stanley Goldfarb
The Free Press

Excerpt: For better or worse, I have had a front-row seat to the meltdown of twenty-first-century medicine. Many colleagues and I are alarmed at how the DEI agenda—which promotes people and policies based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation rather than merit—is undermining healthcare for all patients regardless of their status.

Our argument is that medical schools are engaging in racial discrimination in service to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have filed more than seventy complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which exists in large part to investigate schools that discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, age, and disability.

May 1, 2023
By Sally Satel

Excerpt: A foundational principle of truth-seeking is the norm of universalism: the concept that work must be judged on its own merits.

When this principle is applied to academic journals, it means that the studies—the hypotheses being tested, methods used, and interpretations presented—should speak for themselves.  But authors are now distorting that process with so-called “positionality statements.” These disclosures are included in the body of research papers and describe personal attributes of the authors, like their identities, experiences, and societal advantages.