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beskeptical
2005-Mar-31, 10:47 AM
Capitol bill aims to control ‘leftist’ profs THE LAW COULD LET STUDENTS SUE FOR UNTOLERATED BELIEFS. (http://www.alligator.org/pt2/050323freedom.php)
“Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue. :o


Similar suits could be filed by students who don’t believe astronauts landed on the moon, who believe teaching birth control is a sin or even by Shands medical students who refuse to perform blood transfusions and believe prayer is the only way to heal the body, Gelber added.

“This is a horrible step,” he said. “Universities will have to hire lawyers so our curricula can be decided by judges in courtrooms. Professors might have to pay court costs — even if they win — from their own pockets. This is not an innocent piece of legislation.”

The staff analysis also warned the bill may shift responsibility for determining whether a student’s freedom has been infringed from the faculty to the courts.

But Baxley brushed off Gelber’s concerns. “Freedom is a dangerous thing, and you might be exposed to things you don’t want to hear,” he said. “Being a businessman, I found out you can be sued for anything. Besides, if students are being persecuted and ridiculed for their beliefs, I think they should be given standing to sue.”

During the committee hearing, Baxley cast opposition to his bill as “leftists” struggling against “mainstream society.”

“The critics ridicule me for daring to stand up for students and faculty,” he said, adding that he was called a McCarthyist. Here's the actual bill. (http://www.flsenate.gov/cgi-bin/view_page.pl?Tab=session&Submenu=1&FT=D&File=hb083 700.html&Directory=session/2005/House/bills/billtext/html/)

I am just overwhelmed by the stupidity of this. Do you think the author of this bill ever even went to college? Do they really think the college or university cannot handle hiring quality staff without this nonsensical oversight? What fantasy world do these idiots live in?

mid
2005-Mar-31, 11:11 AM
Professors would also be advised to teach alternative “serious academic theories” that may disagree with their personal views.

Well, that's Intelligent Design stuffed, then.

TriangleMan
2005-Mar-31, 12:14 PM
(3) Students have a right to expect that their academic freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.

(6) Faculty and instructors have a right to academic freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should make their students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints other than their own and should encourage intellectual honesty, civil debate, and critical analysis of ideas in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

ID is a "serious scholarly viewpoint"? In a science class?

Item 3 is what confuses me, students have a right to not have controversial matter introduced - yet that means a student can introduce ID into a biology lecture? :-s Sound to me that Item 3 should exclude anyone introducing ID into a biology class, since it's "controversial" (i.e. not science).

Bizarre. Is there any chance of it actually being enacted?

Disinfo Agent
2005-Mar-31, 12:17 PM
Also posted at FWIS (http://loresinger.com/FWIS/viewtopic.php?p=38247#38247).

Grendl
2005-Mar-31, 12:49 PM
Geesh, can we find any more reasons for litigation? Several highly publicized cases, given further noisy attention by David Horowitz and his Students For Academic Freedom group, are causing people to have knee-jerk reactions, like the ones to the IMAX films mentioned in the other thread.

My feeling is this: teachers should be allowed to teach as they see fit within reason. Professors, especially, have specialized knowledge in the areas of their PhDs and thesis. Why should a professor, say, extrapolate on ID, when his thesis and study was about some aspect of Darwinian theory? College students are at college to learn something, but mainly they should learn how to think. If they don't agree with something, they have a brain, they can go pursue that knowledge by another avenue.

I was forced to go to a Catholic high school (though my family is Greek Orthodox). Freshman year Religion class was all about the nuts and bolts of Catholicism. I told my teacher that I was an atheist and she said fine, but you have to do the assignments and argue why you disagree. We were also assigned to write a paper on every Sunday's mass, but since I refused to go to church, she made me write about specific passages in the Gospels. She was cool in that way and I got an A, but only because I provided well-thought out arguments. This was tiresome for me and in subsequent years I just went along. I got A's in all my religion classes. It didn't faze me to study things I disagreed with--it was their job to teach me what they knew (besides it was a Catholic school).

In college, I had a professor who was a Lutheran Melville scholar and we studied the synoptic hypothesis. He did, in fact, mention that comparing the gospels and how they were essentially plagiarized from each other and written for different audiences, in no way denied belief. Imagine if I spent my time arguing even the existence of God or constantly disputing the professors theories; no, I simply did my work and compared the gospels as assigned. The assignments helped develop critical thinking skills. What if I argued against the professor's theories regarding the synoptic hypothesis?* The same goes for my American Political thought class; what if I argued that the textbooks didn't to contain enough accurate history or discuss alternative views of early American history? Now, I support better textbooks, but in colleges I expect the professor to infuse lessons with his or her views on the matter. What a battleground it would be if a student could sue for being not told this or that.

Imagine if in my World Literature class I argued against the beautifully written prose of St. Augustine or even Genesis? Did reading that literature turn me into a God-fearing believer? Likewise, would a God-fearing believer lose his or her faith learning about the synoptic hypothesis?

Now, I do think that often professors will grade your papers based on your "getting it" in the way they "get" the subject matter. I was told that by my Literature into Film prof. who was not an easy grader: "You came closer than anybody in understanding..." But I was at a state university and I knew for a fact that a lot of students in my class were all around clueless and if they disagreed with the prof's ideas, they wouldn't have been able to write very persuasive arguments.

From this article posted on our board in January:

Whether through self-censorship or junk education, our country's children are paying the price for the political aggression of the far right. Robert Frost once wrote, "Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper."
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1228-32.htm

I think Frost had it right. Do we really need our minds to be babysitted? That's essentially what this issue is all about. Or perhaps students whose grade point average is killed by a certain professor want to complain. In reading about this in the news, I always wish I could read the actual assignments and papers. It's too much a he said, she said issue. My experience is, at least at a state university, there are some really poor students.

Said professor gave me the highest grade on a paper: a B++. What the heck is the difference between a B++ and an A--? Reminds me of, is 1.0... = .999...Bizarre.

Edit article's grammar-missing "to"

Grendl
2005-Mar-31, 12:58 PM
Of interest:

A friend wrote:


But the legislation in question only deals with diversity insofar as it tries to eliminate it as much as possible--it's premised entirely upon reducing all fact to mere opinion (a major goal of the political right for years now). It dictates government intrusion into the educational process for purely political purposes, and, while it's certainly more "sexy" to say the ACLU and CAIR are the major opponents of Horowitz's current con-job, it's somewhat more sobering to realize that its primary opponents have been and remain those in the professional education community.

And their arguments are sound:
http://www.aaup.org/statements/SpchState/Statements/billofrights.htm

Beskeptical, you sure know how to get a rise of out of me in the morning!

farmerjumperdon
2005-Mar-31, 01:03 PM
The Propogation of Ignorance has always been with us; it's just amazing that it is growing in strength when one would expect it to decline - and happening at Universities no less. Oh well, we march on. Who said the accumulation of knowledge and search for the truth was a linear path. A little dip into the Dark ages here and there seems to be part of our history.

papageno
2005-Mar-31, 01:09 PM
In college, I had a professor who was a Lutheran Melville scholar and we studied the synoptic hypothesis.
I had this for a while in high-school.
The religion teacher was a Catholic priest, and we also compared the Greek and Latin versions of some passages. 8)

captain swoop
2005-Mar-31, 01:15 PM
Alchemy, astrology, geocentrism, How about claims that the Illuminati are in control of all world history, People actualy do like new Coke. Pi is 3 or Baseball isn't boring.

Swift
2005-Mar-31, 01:48 PM
aaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh h!!!!!!!!!
(where is the pulling all the remaining hair out of my head smiley?)
:evil: :evil: :evil:

And people wonder why all of our scientists and engineers come from overseas and why other countries are beating us in technology. We will have a generation of college graduates who are not smart enough to run the cash register at Walmart because the concept that 3 + 2 = 5 was against someone's personal belief structure and wasn't taught.

I feel slightly better now. :oops:

jofg
2005-Mar-31, 01:50 PM
“Freedom is a dangerous thing, and you might be exposed to things you don’t want to hear,”

:o

Jim
2005-Mar-31, 01:51 PM
(3) Students have a right to expect that their academic freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.

(6) Faculty and instructors have a right to academic freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they should make their students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints other than their own and should encourage intellectual honesty, civil debate, and critical analysis of ideas in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

Bizarre. Is there any chance of it actually being enacted?

Well, this is the Florida lege and guv we're talking about. ... Yes.

Items 3 and 6 seem sufficiently murky and contradictory that the bill, if passed as written, could be found unconstitutional.

I'm just glad this is Florida. That lets Texas off the hook for awhile. Our lege is too busy trying to rewrite Houston traffic laws or fund schools with gambling and taxes on nudey bars to get involved in such nonsense.

Tensor
2005-Mar-31, 02:27 PM
I'm just glad this is Florida. That lets Texas off the hook for awhile. Our lege is too busy trying to rewrite Houston traffic laws or fund schools with gambling and taxes on nudey bars to get involved in such nonsense.

Not that I think it matters, but I've contacted my state representative and my state senator trying to get them to vote against.

Spacewriter
2005-Mar-31, 03:01 PM
This will come back to bite them in the butt when students sign up for religion classes and start to debate the "oh so learned professors of faith."

Swift
2005-Mar-31, 03:21 PM
“Freedom is a dangerous thing, and you might be exposed to things you don’t want to hear,”

:o
You know, that statement is absolutely correct. Freedom is an extremely dangerous thing. It is extremely valuable and precious, it requires the holder to actually do some work to maintain it (like think and act) and exposes the user to all kinds of potential hazards of body, mind, and soul. It is much "safer" and easier not to have freedom; to have some omnipotent State dictate to us what to think and do. They we can just lean back and enjoy the latest episode of American Idol. Yep, ignorance is bliss.

I suspect that the state of Florida will soon be the safest place on the planet.

tlbs101
2005-Mar-31, 03:26 PM
This bill is aimed at professors who's main goal is not teaching, but indoctrination into their political beliefs.

I'll give you an example of such a professor here at the University of New Mexico, Richard Berthold. He taught undergrad social science, history, and political science. If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, no matter how well your classwork was done; no matter how well your arguments were formed; no matter how well you did on the tests; you were failed.

According to what I heard and read (newspaper articles) the only way to "pass" his classes was to agree with his political and religious viewpoint. Two good friends who graduated from UNM have told me these things.

A Western Civilization class was an undergrad requirement for almost every major and while he was not the only instructor, many students would try and schedule that particular class in a semester when another professor was teaching it.

Complaints and protests against this professor finally led to his removal a few years ago. The "straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back" was some public political statements he made, very similar to what Colorado University's Ward Churchill made back in January.

College is not a place for indoctrination, but as that bill asks for, a place for academic freedom.

captain swoop
2005-Mar-31, 03:32 PM
If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, .

Why would you need to profess your Christianity in a University class?

US Universities must be very different to the UK.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Mar-31, 03:49 PM
If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, .
Why would you need to profess your Christianity in a University class?
And how?... :-?

farmerjumperdon
2005-Mar-31, 04:29 PM
My guess is that the story is somewhat exagerated, as most "a friend of mine told me" stories usually are. If a professor flunked every student who ever professed Christian beliefs established such a perfect pattern, he would not last long - even with tenure.

The fact that he did get ousted proves the system works.

And if the guys reputation were that well known, the kids who professed their Christian beliefs anyway need to go 3 steps back and take a remedial class - Common Sense in the Real World 001. Or maybe - How to Blow the Whistle without Getting Your Head Chopped Off 002?

Just to be clear tlbs101, do you support this kind of legislation?

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-31, 04:40 PM
This bill is aimed at professors who's main goal is not teaching, but indoctrination into their political beliefs.

I'll give you an example of such a professor here at the University of New Mexico, Richard Berthold. He taught undergrad social science, history, and political science. If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, no matter how well your classwork was done; no matter how well your arguments were formed; no matter how well you did on the tests; you were failed.

According to what I heard and read (newspaper articles) the only way to "pass" his classes was to agree with his political and religious viewpoint. Two good friends who graduated from UNM have told me these things.

A Western Civilization class was an undergrad requirement for almost every major and while he was not the only instructor, many students would try and schedule that particular class in a semester when another professor was teaching it.

Complaints and protests against this professor finally led to his removal a few years ago. The "straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back" was some public political statements he made, very similar to what Colorado University's Ward Churchill made back in January.

College is not a place for indoctrination, but as that bill asks for, a place for academic freedom.
Professors like that one may or may not be the bill's target (more on that below), but if they are, then this bill doesn't serve its purpose very well. By your description, Richard Berthold was essentially applying an enormous "antiChristian fudge factor" to his grading. If legislation is really necessary to deal with this problem (and since Berthold was apparently removed without the need for legislative action, his case is not such a strong argument for that) then one could just require professors to spell out the course requirements very clearly and follow them to the letter when giving grades. Simply stamp out fudge factors (or at least restrict them) and a professor will not be able to ruin a student's GPA out of bias against the student's beliefs.

But this bill appears to be designed to let students sue just because they don't like the curriculum or the teaching methods. (It is also horribly vague in spots, so I'm not sure of that just from reading the bill, but that's a good educated guess based on the statements of the bill's sponsor.) I certainly wouldn't argue against this provision:

(2)**Students have a right to expect that they will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects they study and that they will not be discriminated against on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.
But what am I to make of this?:

(3)**Students have a right to expect that their academic freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.
As for what the bill's target is, while we may wish it to be aimed at professors like Richard Berthold, it's probably best to refer to the statements of the bill's sponsor to see what it's really designed for:

“Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design, and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-31, 04:47 PM
I'm perplexed by something in the news article:

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.
Who is this "legislative staff"? Who do they work for? How did they arrive at these interpretations?

farmerjumperdon
2005-Mar-31, 04:48 PM
You nailed it Tomba. This is the Dark Age Fundamentalist movement to stamp out the science that does not fit with their hope, desire, and faith. They are doing an end run around factual evidence by attempting to keep hope and desire on a par with scientific inquiry.

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 04:54 PM
Professors like that one may or may not be the bill's target (more on that below), but if they are, then this bill doesn't serve its purpose very well. (snip) But this bill appears to be designed to let students sue just because they don't like the curriculum or the teaching methods. (It is also horribly vague in spots, so I'm not sure of that just from reading the bill, but that's a good educated guess based on the statements of the bill's sponsor.)

My guess is that this bill is a direct response to the growing concern over the open politicization of course material introduced by a disturbingly high percentage of tenured university staff. Over the last year or two, there have been a number of monitoring efforts launched; these were brought to a head by the Ward Churchill affair but the issue had been building up steam before that. The situation where (predominantly) marxist teachers abuse their position to act as a platform for their own political beliefs and severely penalize any students who disagree with those beliefs is well documented. Daniel Pipes has undertaken a similar monitoring (http://www.campus-watch.org/) that documents similar behavior with regard to the Arab-Israeli issue. The issue is a very real one.

However, in the main, I agree with you; this is a very bad bill and one that will certainly be abused by woo-woos. attempting to force their own viewpoints into classrooms. I'm not sure about how we can deal with the genuine problem that exists without having these highly undesirable side-effects.

Sam5
2005-Mar-31, 04:54 PM
This bill is aimed at professors who's main goal is not teaching, but indoctrination into their political beliefs.

I'll give you an example of such a professor here at the University of New Mexico, Richard Berthold. He taught undergrad social science, history, and political science. If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, no matter how well your classwork was done; no matter how well your arguments were formed; no matter how well you did on the tests; you were failed.

Isn’t that the professor who told his class, “Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon gets my vote”?

Sam5
2005-Mar-31, 04:58 PM
If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, .

Why would you need to profess your Christianity in a University class?

US Universities must be very different to the UK.
First Amendment, freedom of speech, also Ninth and Tenth Amendment. We have a Constitution that allows for freedom of thought, speech, and open discussion. We have no Kings, Queens, or Emperors here.

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 05:00 PM
(Richard Berthold) Isn’t that the professor who told his class, “Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon gets my vote”?

I believe so; He's far from the worst of his kind though. Some of the stories we get told by interns working here are hair-raising.

TriangleMan
2005-Mar-31, 05:01 PM
My guess is that the story is somewhat exagerated, as most "a friend of mine told me" stories usually are.
I went to www.ratemyprofessor.com and he had an "average" rating. Ratings were either very positive because he was unconventional and challenged one to think outside the box, or very negative without a detailed explanation. Just from that alone he must be a somewhat controversial instructor. No mention of automatically failing Christians. I'll see what else I can Google.

(edited to add: I haven't found anything, pretty much all I can find about Berthold was his controversial 9/11 remarks. Nothing about flunking students because of their religion)

TriangleMan
2005-Mar-31, 05:10 PM
(Richard Berthold) Isn’t that the professor who told his class, “Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon gets my vote”?

I believe so; He's far from the worst of his kind though. Some of the stories we get told by interns working here are hair-raising.
He obviously said something pretty wild about 9/11, as shown by these UNM minutes (http://www.unm.edu/~facsen/OctMin.html).

Disinfo Agent
2005-Mar-31, 05:18 PM
If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, .
Why would you need to profess your Christianity in a University class?

US Universities must be very different to the UK.
First Amendment, freedom of speech, also Ninth and Tenth Amendment. We have a Constitution that allows for freedom of thought, speech, and open discussion.
No, captain swoop asked why you would need to do it.


We have no Kings, Queens, or Emperors here.
Sounds like an ad hominem to me. :roll:

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 05:21 PM
He obviously said something pretty wild about 9/11, as shown by these UNM minutes (http://www.unm.edu/~facsen/OctMin.html).

Another case along the same lines was the Kirstein Affair, (best and least biased coverage is HERE (http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/outrage/cadet.htm))

The ability of such people to use their official positions to destroy the university careers/studies of anybody they disagree is obviouslya problem that needs attention. This law is a bad way of going about it though.

Kristophe
2005-Mar-31, 05:25 PM
We have no Kings, Queens, or Emperors here.


Ahh, nothing like a little thinly veiled nationalism to start off your day right.

Sam5
2005-Mar-31, 05:32 PM
We have no Kings, Queens, or Emperors here.
Sounds like an ad hominem to me. :roll:

No, you can read the reasons for the Constitution and why it is worded the way it is. For example, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” We are pretty strict about not allowing dictatorships here and allowing people – the citizens – to think freely. The preservations of our freedom of thought and expression, as opposed to the thought control required by Kings, Queens, and Emperors, is explicit in the Constitution. And we don’t like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom either.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Mar-31, 05:40 PM
We have no Kings, Queens, or Emperors here.
Sounds like an ad hominem to me. :roll:
No, you can read the reasons for the Constitution and why it is worded the way it is. For example, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” We are pretty strict about not allowing dictatorships here and allowing people – the citizens – to think freely. The preservations of our freedom of thought and expression, as opposed to the thought control required by Kings, Queens, and Emperors, is explicit in the Constitution. And we don’t like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom either.
And what does any of that have to do with freedom of speech (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=446232&#446232)?

Evan
2005-Mar-31, 05:45 PM
We have no Kings, Queens, or Emperors here

Ever been to San Francisco?


That bill is incredibly badly conceived. Regardless of the motivation behind it or who might have a hidden agenda to push that bill can be used by the "other" side. The end result will be similar to the situation faced by medical doctors, ridiculous malpractice insurance premiums. Anyone want to guess how much it might raise tuition?

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-31, 05:48 PM
We are pretty strict about not allowing dictatorships here and allowing people – the citizens – to think freely. The preservations of our freedom of thought and expression, as opposed to the thought control required by Kings, Queens, and Emperors, is explicit in the Constitution. And we don’t like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom either.
I certainly don't like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom. But I also don't like self-appointed culture crusaders in the legislatures throwing monkey wrenches into a generally well-functioning academic system with heavy-handed and politically opportunistic "solutions" to a problem that really needs a thoughtful and delicate approach. And I really don't like it when self-appointed spokespeople for the entire American nation inject pointless, irrelevant, and inflammatory attacks on foreign institutions into what was previously a meaningful discourse.

You have already appreciably lowered the quality of the discussion in this thread. I, for one, wish you would quit it.

Jim
2005-Mar-31, 05:52 PM
I'm perplexed by something in the news article:

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.
Who is this "legislative staff"? Who do they work for? How did they arrive at these interpretations?

Good question. Legislative staffers are usually lawyers. Law schools thrive on exactly the methods they decry. So, maybe these staffers are newly graduated lawyers who had trouble in class and this is their way of getting even.

But, I agree. Forcing students to not only show up for class but to actually think and, even worse, to be able to explain their thought process, is just criminal.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-31, 06:03 PM
I'm perplexed by something in the news article:

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.
Who is this "legislative staff"? Who do they work for? How did they arrive at these interpretations?

Good question. Legislative staffers are usually lawyers. Law schools thrive on exactly the methods they decry. So, maybe these staffers are newly graduated lawyers who had trouble in class and this is their way of getting even.

But, I agree. Forcing students to not only show up for class but to actually think and, even worse, to be able to explain their thought process, is just criminal.
Actually, I was thinking that the analysis seemed biased against the bill, particularly the point about the Socratic method. The suggestion that professors would no longer be able to require students to explain their thinking seems a very stretchy interpretation of the bill's actual language, which just makes general references to discrimination, and does not even mention "public ridicule". It's the kind of interpretation that I would expect from either a neutral party or an opponent of the bill, but not from a supporter. That's why I was wondering who these legislative staffers are and who they're working for.

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 06:04 PM
I certainly don't like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom. But I also don't like self-appointed culture crusaders in the legislatures throwing monkey wrenches into a generally well-functioning academic system with heavy-handed and politically opportunistic "solutions" to a problem that really needs a thoughtful and delicate approach.

I think the problem is a little more deep-rooted than that. I think the real root of this bill is the modern tendancy to work on the basis of "Gee, there is a problem; lets make up a law to solve it." In that sense we're getting dangerously close to a krytocracy. Laws, almost be definition are clubs; the problems afflicting academia are not susceptible to treatment by clubbing.

I would disagree with your comment that the academic system is generally well-functioning. Based on our experience with people who apply for jobs, it's functioning extremely badly - in great part precisely due to the types of "self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators" we're discussing.

The rest of your comments I'll leave strictly alone.

Jim
2005-Mar-31, 06:14 PM
We have no Kings, Queens, or Emperors here.

Well, no hereditary ones. Which is why we tend to treat our "celebrities" as if they are royalty.

We are pretty strict about not allowing dictatorships here and allowing people – the citizens – to think freely.

Why do J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy spring suddenly to mind?

The preservations of our freedom of thought and expression, as opposed to the thought control required by Kings, Queens, and Emperors, is explicit in the Constitution.

D**n that Queen E, forcing all her subjects to think exactly alike. I'm sure that's why Parliament is always so well-behaved in its deliberations; they aren't allowed to express themselves.

And we don’t like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom either.

Well, unless we agree with what they say.

Sam5
2005-Mar-31, 06:20 PM
I was speaking specifically of the Kings, Queens, and Emperors of 215-216 years ago, back when the US territories were colonies of England, France, and Spain. That’s when our Constitution was first written. This proposed Florida law, if passed, will most likely be reviewed for its “Constitutionality” by various State and Federal courts. In many Supreme Court cases, attorneys for both sides trace the laws and Constitutional decisions back to colonial days. You can find many Supreme Court decisions on the FindLaw website.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-31, 06:22 PM
I certainly don't like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom. But I also don't like self-appointed culture crusaders in the legislatures throwing monkey wrenches into a generally well-functioning academic system with heavy-handed and politically opportunistic "solutions" to a problem that really needs a thoughtful and delicate approach.

I think the problem is a little more deep-rooted than that. I think the real root of this bill is the modern tendancy to work on the basis of "Gee, there is a problem; lets make up a law to solve it." In that sense we're getting dangerously close to a krytocracy. Laws, almost be definition are clubs; the problems afflicting academia are not susceptible to treatment by clubbing.
Agreed.

I would disagree with your comment that the academic system is generally well-functioning. Based on our experience with people who apply for jobs, it's functioning extremely badly - in great part precisely due to the types of "self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators" we're discussing.
That may be. My general impression was that the system is well-functioning, but I am certainly not an insider. I'd like to ask, who is the "we" that you refer to in "our experience"? You hint at having direct experience with these matters; could you elaborate?

The rest of your comments I'll leave strictly alone.
That's probably a good idea. Having cooled off a little, I am now wondering if I should have made them. While I still stand behind the points you declined to respond to (Edit: though they were not aimed at you), the tone may have been too strong, and perhaps it would have been better to omit them entirely. But what's said is said.

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 06:35 PM
That may be. My general impression was that the system is well-functioning, but I am certainly not an insider. I'd like to ask, who is the "we" that you refer to in "our experience"? You hint at having direct experience with these matters; could you elaborate?

I work for one of the companies that provides highly specialized consultancy services to the Department of Defense and its suppliers. The "we" is that company and "our experience" is hiring people from universities either as full-time staffers or interns. Some of the guys we get are first class but we get some terrifying examples of the other extreme.

farmerjumperdon
2005-Mar-31, 06:38 PM
There was a comment about "disturbingly high percentage of tenured professors." What percent is that?

Also the statement that they are Marxist. How do you know that?

If these are valid statements, there must be a study or report somewhere down by some group that gives numbers and political beliefs.

What are they? Acknowledging they are probably biased one way or another, it'd still be interesting. If we had a study done by each of the sides of the arguement, considering their highly politicized agendas, we could probably take an average and be in the ball park of the truth. (Unless one side is significantly better at lying and manipulating data than the other).

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 07:35 PM
There was a comment about "disturbingly high percentage of tenured professors." What percent is that?

2Hi. Unfortunately, no systematic study has been done so we don't know the exact numbers. However monitoring sites that report on such things (for example the campuswatch mentined earlier) document the problem as being spread across a large number of universities (no, I haven't actually counted them) across the country. Therefore, in view of the threat to acdemic freedom that such people present, I believe the term "disturbingly high" is justified. Even the presence of a small number (in absolute terms) of such people is disturbing.


Also the statement that they are Marxist. How do you know that?

There's an old saying; when it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its probable that it is a duck. When the people in question spout straight marxist propaganda, persecute everybody who disagrees with such propaganda and behave like marxist goons, its reasonable to assume they are marxists. Again, consult the monitoring groups; they document the behavior in question for you. Add into that, first-hand experience form people who are leaving university and its pretty obvious where the bulk of the problem is situated. I'll make this clear; I will condemn fundamentalist christian, or extreme right staff members who behave the same way with equal vigor, but the documentation and personal experience does show that the center of the problem is with the extreme left.

Makgraf
2005-Mar-31, 07:37 PM
This is, of course, a terrible bill. But it's an example of the academy reaping what they're sowed. It's the reductio ad absurdum of the 'no one should be offended by anything' movement that attacked on 'harmful' speech, microaggression and other thought crimes. FIRE (http://www.thefire.org) has some excellent stuff on this and there's a very entertaining free film (http://academicbias.com/bw101.html) on the subject (what other gadfly documentarian does the style of that remind you of?). Well now the Florida legislature is just taking the next step by extending this protection to everyone.

Get ready for "Intelligent Design 101: Exposing The Satanic Lies of the Evil-utionists" to join "Womyn's Studies 240: Poststruturalist Analysis of Capitalist Hegemony in Neo-Patriarchy"

Disinfo Agent
2005-Mar-31, 07:38 PM
I work for one of the companies that provides highly specialized consultancy services to the Department of Defense and its suppliers. The "we" is that company and "our experience" is hiring people from universities either as full-time staffers or interns. Some of the guys we get are first class but we get some terrifying examples of the other extreme.
I fail to see the connection with politics.

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 07:59 PM
I fail to see the connection with politics.

'#-o' We were talking about problems with people seeking employment after leaving university - and, by implications, the degree to which they were unsuited for the real world.

Moose
2005-Mar-31, 08:06 PM
Uh, Stuart, since when? Up until Sam5 dragged in the hypothetical monarchy (kicking and screaming, no doubt), this thread was about the proposed florida bill.

I really don't see where you're coming from here.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Mar-31, 08:07 PM
I fail to see the connection with politics.
'#-o' We were talking about problems with people seeking employment after leaving university - and, by implications, the degree to which they were unsuited for the real world.
It didn't seem so here (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=446230&#446230), where you talked about the "open politicization of course material introduced by a disturbingly high percentage of tenured university staff".

Makgraf
2005-Mar-31, 09:10 PM
This will come back to bite them in the butt when students sign up for religion classes and start to debate the "oh so learned professors of faith."
It's a fun image, but interestingly enough University religion classes are among the most left-wing out there. A new study (http://www.bepress.com/forum/vol3/iss1/art2) on the idelogical orrientation of university professors said that Theology/Religion department was 83% liberal to 5% conservative. That puts it's in 'top 5' leftist departments.

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 09:11 PM
I really don't see where you're coming from here.

My point is that the proposed bill (of which I do not approve by the way) is a response to the politicization of teaching in universities and the activities of some faculty members who automatically fail students who challenge their dogma. I agree that this bill is a very bad response to that problem and is much more likely to cause additional problems than solve the ones that exist. The first few posts were tending to suggest that it was intended to allow people like creationists and apollo-hoaxers to demand their opinions got a hearing. I agree also that such effects are probable, but that wasn't the intent of this bill.

I also noted that it was not correct to say that the higher education system was working well; my experience has been is that it is broken and does need fixing. However this way of "fixing it" is fundamentally misconceived.

In short where I'm comingf rom is the fact this is a very bad law that will not solve the problem, doesn't mean that there is not a problem that needs fixing.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-31, 09:16 PM
I'll make this clear; I will condemn fundamentalist christian, or extreme right staff members who behave the same way with equal vigor, but the documentation and personal experience does show that the center of the problem is with the extreme left.
Since I dislike talking about "the left" and "the right" as if they were organizations, I propose a restatement of this point: academics who act this way (however many there are) tend to be leftists. I find that entirely unsurprising, because academia as a whole leans somewhat to the left. Therefore, you will find a lot more extreme leftists than extreme rightists in the universities. Some people blame the general leftward lean of the universities on political bias keeping conservatives out, but I suspect it's mostly just because academic careers don't pay very well. A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners. Therefore, conservatives will be underrepresented in the universities even without any "totalitarians" blackballing them.

Stuart
2005-Mar-31, 09:26 PM
Since I dislike talking about "the left" and "the right" as if they were organizations, I propose a restatement of this point: academics who act this way (however many there are) tend to be leftists. I find that entirely unsurprising, because academia as a whole leans somewhat to the left. Therefore, you will find a lot more extreme leftists than extreme rightists in the universities. Some people blame the general leftward lean of the universities on political bias keeping conservatives out, but I suspect it's mostly just because academic careers don't pay very well. A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners. Therefore, conservatives will be underrepresented in the universities even without any "totalitarians" blackballing them.

I'd like to say I think that is a very fine, succint and accurate summary of a complex problem.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Mar-31, 09:27 PM
The first few posts were tending to suggest that it was intended to allow people like creationists and apollo-hoaxers to demand their opinions got a hearing. I agree also that such effects are probable, but that wasn't the intent of this bill.
Dennis Baxley, one of the proponents of the bill, specifically said:


“Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue.
Are you saying he lied about his motives for supporting the bill?


I also noted that it was not correct to say that the higher education system was working well; my experience has been is that it is broken and does need fixing.
What is it about your experience that makes you say it's broken, exactly?
I don't think you've made that clear, yet.

Andromeda321
2005-Mar-31, 09:46 PM
They are thinking of passing the same sort of thing in Ohio, and of course I've already written a little article about it. Here it is for anyone interested-

So apparently there’s this statement known as the first amendment tacked onto the United States Constitution. In it you are guaranteed that Congress shall make no laws infringing upon freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the presses, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition. Sounds like a lot of important information crammed into one little amendment but hey, it’s the first one so you’ll take note (whereas the truly lazy probably never make it to reading the, say, quartering of soldiers one).
I’m saying this all because according to a recent study from the University of Connecticut only 58% of adults know that the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech. By the time you get to the end of the amendment, the freedom to petition, only 1% of people know that this is a right guaranteed in the United States Constitution. The reason I have been worrying over this fact is a very simple one: if you ignore your rights they will be taken away from you. And you’ll probably only notice their absence due to their disappearance, and by this points it is unlikely they will return.
I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I first heard about the introduction of Bill SB 24 in the Ohio State Legislature. Also known as the “Academic Bill of Rights,” this bill is going around promoting equal opportunity to all students and faculty at both public and private universities regardless of their political, ideological, and religious beliefs. (If you want to read the bill, which I highly recommend you do so, it can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6x4x3.) It sounds like a great idea because everyone knows universities are great places to exchange ideas, but lately there has been some worry that some viewpoints have not gotten their fair say. And who does not want everyone’s voice heard?
Well here’s the thing: the second you do things like no longer allow professors to, say, “Persistently introduce controversial matter that… serves no pedagogical purpose,” you are infringing on someone’s rights, in this case the rights of the professor. We’ve all heard horror stories/ urban legends where the professor uses his class as his personal soapbox and none of us want to be caught dead in those classes, agreed. But if you make such discourse illegal you are also going to ban the economics professor who, with a twinkle in her eye, goes off as the devil’s advocate and, horror!, makes you think a bit during class even if it has nothing to do with anything. Moments like these are one of the reasons I, and I’m sure many others, are excited to go to class sometimes just to see what’s going to happen. Take away these moments and you are likely taking away some of the greatest memories college students have.
Plus if professors can no longer infringe upon your political, ideological, or religious beliefs while handing out grades can I turn in a paper defending the Bible Code for a religion class and threaten to sue when I get a bad grade? How about writing in big bold letters on an astronomy exam “the Big Bang never happened” or “mankind is only six millennia old” on an evolutionary biology exam? Can I complain when I don’t get a good grade because I believe I’m right?
I am also worried about this bill because I can guarantee you that Ohio will see a great drop in bright students and competent faculty vying for positions at universities within the state. This is because intelligent people will have heard of the measure and seek positions in academia elsewhere. Do you think Ohio institutions will be able to compete with out of state institutions where there are no infringements upon free speech? Of course not, and the universities will suffer.
So do I have a solution for making sure all viewpoints are heard on university campuses in Ohio? Of course I do, and it’s the same one I have regarding censorship and banning books in libraries: if you are going to be offended just don’t go someplace where you know will be offended. I mean if you don’t like the fact that Oberlin is currently so liberal they put a Republican on their diversity board don’t send in your application! And if you haven’t done your homework and complain upon arrival, transfer. Do not take away my free speech rights just because you’re one of 42% of people who aren’t aware of your own.
Of course, I put my money where my mouth is on this one: I like the state but have no plans on staying around very long should this bill be passed. I do not and will not wake up one day only to find my rights have been taken away from me.

Ilya
2005-Mar-31, 09:55 PM
This bill is aimed at professors who's main goal is not teaching, but indoctrination into their political beliefs.

I'll give you an example of such a professor here at the University of New Mexico, Richard Berthold. He taught undergrad social science, history, and political science. If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, no matter how well your classwork was done; no matter how well your arguments were formed; no matter how well you did on the tests; you were failed.

Isn’t that the professor who told his class, “Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon gets my vote”?

The very same. And University of Colorado's Ward Churchill is now best known by calling WTC victims "little Eichmans"; although he is under academic investigation not for that, but for alleged plagiarism and fraud. The KIND of fraud is almost comical in itself -- he claimed to be an American Indian (which he is not) in order to get the position at Department of Ethnic Studies.

Sam5
2005-Mar-31, 10:11 PM
The very same.

The New Mexico professor was on the news a lot out here back then. Apparently he made his remark about the Pentagon in a classroom as soon as he heard it had been hit with a plane and more than a hundred people were killed. This was considered out here to be a crazy thing for a professor to tell his class at the time.

Sam5
2005-Mar-31, 10:21 PM
Uh, Stuart, since when? Up until Sam5 dragged in the hypothetical monarchy...

I was talking about the Constitutionality of the proposed law. In US Constitutional law, the “professor” will generally represent “the state”, i.e. “the government,” going all the way back to the era of the ancient kings, queens, and emperors of Europe. The “students” will represent “the masses”, “the people,” and “the citizens” of the US and the Constitution and its amendments. Under the Constitution, the professor has certain legal authority, but the students have certain legal rights. Regarding this new proposed law, this will all have to be hashed out in court.

See this in the original news story:

““Professors are accountable for what they say or do,” he said. “They’re accountable to the rest of us in society … All of a sudden the faculty think they can do what they want and shut us out. Why is it so unheard of to say the professor shouldn’t be a dictator and control that room as their totalitarian niche?””

This is referring to some dictatorships in modern times, such as Cuba and North Korea, but it is also referring to the old days when kings, queens, and emperors were dictators who controlled their countries and the educational institutions within them.

http://www.alligator.org/pt2/050323freedom.php

I didn’t mean to offend anyone in England or Canada. I certainly don’t think of the Queen of England as a “dictator”. Our own Presidents are more “dictators” than she is.

Makgraf
2005-Mar-31, 10:29 PM
A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners.

Steve Bainbridge (http://www.techcentralstation.com/120804C.html) comments on that argument:
What about all those conservatives who have taken low paying jobs at think tanks like Cato, Heritage, or AEI? Or the public interest lawyers working at low paying jobs at places like the Pacific Legal Foundation? My firm belief is that those institutions provide a pool of individuals who would be perfectly happy to settle into the academy, if they had a fair shot at finding an academic job.

I agree with you about there not being a "Protocols of the Elders of Campus" thing going on. The process is what marxists term "ideological hegemony", there's just such a critical mass of left/liberals in the academy. So it's not so much that conservatives are seen as "wrong" but as alien. Saying "I am conservative" in university is akin to saying "I'm a snake-handler" in another workplace.


But if you make such discourse illegal you are also going to ban the economics professor who, with a twinkle in her eye, goes off as the devil’s advocate and, horror!, makes you think a bit during class even if it has nothing to do with anything.
Thing is, this sort of thing is already happening (http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2005/Feb-05-Sat-2005/news/25808494.html). Just because "The Man" is the unversity administration instead of the state makes no difference.

I agree with you completely about being exposed to new views and free speech (which is why I'm against this bill) but it's nowhere near a new thing. It's just the logical conclusion of the way things have been heading.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-01, 12:22 AM
A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners.

Steve Bainbridge (http://www.techcentralstation.com/120804C.html) comments on that argument:
What about all those conservatives who have taken low paying jobs at think tanks like Cato, Heritage, or AEI? Or the public interest lawyers working at low paying jobs at places like the Pacific Legal Foundation? My firm belief is that those institutions provide a pool of individuals who would be perfectly happy to settle into the academy, if they had a fair shot at finding an academic job.
A very good point, although I must ask whether there are really enough such people to fully correct the leftward bias, if they were all invited into the academy. Also, Bainbridge connects the low-pay argument to the argument that "liberals are better people than conservatives", which is not at all what I'm trying to say.

I like Bainbridge's very insightful explanation for the bias (in law schools, at least):


[T]he hiring process is almost entirely negative. You spend the vast majority of your time winnowing the application pile -- i.e., finding reasons not to hire someone. If you have on-site interviews of 0.3% of the applicant pool, any opposition by any committee member is enough to exclude someone. At the early stages of the process, they barely need to posit a reason.

In my experience, it thus is a lot harder to get somebody hired than it is to block them from being hired. The process isn't as explicit as the blackballing scene in Animal House, but the law school hiring process is just as weighted against hiring. (And I mean hiring anybody, regardless of political affiliation.) Any opposition (for whatever reason) therefore is usually enough, absent a very strongly committed pro-hiring faction.

I agree with you about there not being a "Protocols of the Elders of Campus" thing going on. The process is what marxists term "ideological hegemony", there's just such a critical mass of left/liberals in the academy. So it's not so much that conservatives are seen as "wrong" but as alien. Saying "I am conservative" in university is akin to saying "I'm a snake-handler" in another workplace.
Or "I'm pro-choice" in many churches. That's also a very good point.

Going back to the point about the conservative think tanks, the existence of such think tanks, which are very influential centers of right-wing thought, relates to another point I want to make. I would challenge the automatic assumption that political bias in the universities is bad for society. (Full disclosure: I am rather liberal myself, so from my own viewpoint, a slight leftward bias anywhere looks good. But that's not part of the argument I'm trying to make.)

I strongly doubt that students are being "indoctrinated" by their professors, even if that's what some professors are trying to do. College students as a group tend to be suspicious of authority, plus they are all old enough to have their own political opinions. I think that the main influence on college students' political thought is from other students, not from professors. Of course a professor shouldn't demand that his students agree with his opinions, but if he does, the students aren't going to be brainwashed. Most of them are just going to fake agreement in order to get ahead, which (cynical though this may sound) is a valuable skill. I do think that students should have academic freedom, but I also think professors should have academic freedom, and if it really comes to a choice between the two (and usually it doesn't), I think the professor's academic freedom is more important.

I also reject the assumption that academia must mirror the spread of political views in the nation, as if it were a representative body. No other coherent segment of society does---even large, influential ones. Hollywood leans to the left. The armed services lean to the right. Churches and the business community lean to the right (but not the same right). Reporters lean to the left, while the media executives they work for lean to the right. Labor unions lean to the left. The federal government, at the moment, leans to the right. Are all these imbalances somehow harmful to society? Do we need a revolution to fix them all? This is where the conservative think tanks come in, because their very successful existence outside the universities suggests that conservatism is not being impeded by its scarcity in academia. There is still plenty of room for it in America.

In sum, I am saying that you cannot treat it as given that a left-leaning academic community is a problem in need of a solution.


Thing is, this sort of thing is already happening. Just because "The Man" is the unversity administration instead of the state makes no difference.
Yes, it's definitely already happening, and that's a great example. But when legislators begin trying to encourage it through law, it's a sign that the trend has spread from academia into government, which does suggest a change to me. I think it indicates a relatively new linkage with currently "hot" political issues.

Sam5
2005-Apr-01, 12:40 AM
I am just overwhelmed by the stupidity of this. Do you think the author of this bill ever even went to college? Do they really think the college or university cannot handle hiring quality staff without this nonsensical oversight? What fantasy world do these idiots live in?


Exactly what do you not like about the wording of the proposed law?

link to the proposed new law in Florida (http://www.flsenate.gov/cgi-bin/view_page.pl?Tab=session&Submenu=1&FT=D&File=hb083 700.html&Directory=session/2005/House/bills/billtext/html/)

dvb
2005-Apr-01, 12:40 AM
I didn’t mean to offend anyone in England or Canada.

Oh, so it was the Australians you were after then. ;)

mid
2005-Apr-01, 09:26 AM
Uh, Stuart, since when? Up until Sam5 dragged in the hypothetical monarchy...

I was talking about the Constitutionality of the proposed law.

...

I didn’t mean to offend anyone in England or Canada.

Sam5, I'm fairly sure (and even if I'm wrong, I was going to make the same point) that the original question wasn't a case of "why should you be able to discuss your religious beliefs in class", but "what reason would cause you to want to do so?"

The thing about the UK is just that we're not used to people espousing their beliefs apropos of nothing, but this might be a cultural difference, and people genuinely do feel the need to tag "As a Christian" onto the beginning of answers for some reason.

Sam5
2005-Apr-01, 12:47 PM
The thing about the UK is just that we're not used to people espousing their beliefs apropos of nothing,

We are discussing a specific proposed Florida law here. Apparently you are under the impression that the law will allow for singing, chanting, prayer meetings, revivals, and baptisms in the classroom. But this isn’t so. I think you need to read the law and express your objections specifically to its various clauses, such as this one:

“125 (2) Students have a right to expect that they will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects they study and that they will not be discriminated against on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.”

Does this clause offend your UK sensibilities?

captain swoop
2005-Apr-01, 01:19 PM
My question was prompted by tlbs101 and his comment



"If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class"


Why would you want to profess your Christianity in a class? You take a class because you want to learn what's on offer no to proselytise against the tutor.

mid
2005-Apr-01, 01:25 PM
Not at all. It's just that the original point you replied to wasn't questioning the bill per se, but wondering why this economics tutor who supposedly fails students because they have Christian beliefs would particularly be aware of said beliefs, when the subject at hand has nothing to do with them.

Sam5
2005-Apr-01, 01:31 PM
Not at all. It's just that the original point you replied to wasn't questioning the bill per se, but wondering why this economics tutor who supposedly fails students because they have Christian beliefs would particularly be aware of said beliefs, when the subject at hand has nothing to do with them.

In the state of New Mexico, and at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, quite a lot of the students are Catholics, especially the Hispanic students, and they often wear little gold crosses on necklaces, both the boys and the girls. Sometimes Hispanics wear Lady of Guadeloupe T-shirts.

mid
2005-Apr-01, 01:34 PM
Aaah, it all makes sense, now, thanks.

Parrothead
2005-Apr-01, 02:21 PM
I just don't see why state legislatures feel the need to enact laws, to enforce what should be already covered and enforced in the rules/regulations/guidelines of the universities/colleges themselves. Looks like the Bill in Florida will cover public universities and not private ones.

For the record, I was a Pol.Sci. major and yes I did have an opinion that differed from some of the profs I had. Some made comments during lectures that I did not agree with. The lectures were for the profs to give information, the tutorials were for discussing/debating what was said. In cases of classes dealing with comparative foreign policy, international relations and history, we had texts covering multiple viewpoints, the release of government documents could have a bearing on what was being/had been discussed. In these types of courses, "left" and "right" do come into play. I never felt discriminated against, from comments made by profs that were "left" leaning, heck part of me wonders what they are saying present day, in light of information from the opening up of some Soviet era archives :wink:. I see these types of Bills, possibly, leading to frivilous lawsuits ie. marxists suing because an economics prof taught capitalism or a "right" leaning student suing because a pol. sci. prof was espousing communism.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Apr-01, 02:54 PM
A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners.
Steve Bainbridge (http://www.techcentralstation.com/120804C.html) comments on that argument:
What about all those conservatives who have taken low paying jobs at think tanks like Cato, Heritage, or AEI? Or the public interest lawyers working at low paying jobs at places like the Pacific Legal Foundation?
Ignoratio elenchi. What does it matter if some rightwingers earn little? The fact remains that many of them have extremely influential and powerful positions in society.


My firm belief is that those institutions provide a pool of individuals who would be perfectly happy to settle into the academy, if they had a fair shot at finding an academic job.
Begs the question. Who said they don't have a fair shot at finding an academic job?

Spacewriter
2005-Apr-01, 02:58 PM
This will come back to bite them in the butt when students sign up for religion classes and start to debate the "oh so learned professors of faith."
It's a fun image, but interestingly enough University religion classes are among the most left-wing out there. A new study (http://www.bepress.com/forum/vol3/iss1/art2) on the idelogical orrientation of university professors said that Theology/Religion department was 83% liberal to 5% conservative. That puts it's in 'top 5' leftist departments.

I guess I was thinking about a hypothetical student at one of those "fundie" universities somehow feeling his oats and questioning the idiocy the prof is dishing out, and then invoking this law. Somehow I'm sure the "university" in question would wriggle out of being responsible under a law that they only wanted to point the other way.

Spacewriter
2005-Apr-01, 03:08 PM
Given the incredibly dangerous right tilt we're seeing in society, universities should be encouraged to remain "on the left" -- if for no other reason than it gives some balance to things.

Having spent 17 years in a university environment (grad school and research) I ran into very little of what the Florida legislators have got their panties in a knot about. I see the whole thing in Florida as another flexing of the political right muscle and not about balancing things. Somebody got their panties in a knot over what one prof said and he's decided to make an example by restricting free speech for everybody. How very democratic.

I went to the University of Colorado, by the way, and as I said, saw very little of what concerns the Florida Guardians of Political Thought. Sure there were professors who espoused things I didn't agree with, and some of them in my own department. But we respectfully disagreed, and I never had my grades taken down for it. In fact, one prof graded me UP for having the cojones to challenge him on something and back up my challenge with facts. THAT's intellectual honesty.

NO doubt there ARE people out there on college faculties who use their position to fatten their egos at the expense of students. I doubt that is limited to "leftist" professors however... and this country has just seen a demonstration of some remarkable ego-inflation by people on the right.

The solution to a prof who supposedly fails students based on religion -- and I haven't seen a shred of proof offered in this thread to back up that this is a widespread problem -- not even in the case of the NM professor -- is to investigate and take appropriate action based on the facts of the case. Not on some he said/she said, 'friend of mine thinks he heard somebody say' kind of wishy-washy evidence. Solid facts, proof, would back this up more than innuendo.

By the way, it seems to be becoming fashionable to label anybody whose thinking doesn't satisfy the right wing's desire for godliness as "Marxist." Another bad move.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-01, 04:06 PM
I guess I was thinking about a hypothetical student at one of those "fundie" universities somehow feeling his oats and questioning the idiocy the prof is dishing out, and then invoking this law. Somehow I'm sure the "university" in question would wriggle out of being responsible under a law that they only wanted to point the other way.
The news article wasn't clear on this point, but I'm guessing this bill would only affect the public universities.

tlbs101
2005-Apr-01, 04:30 PM
To answer several questions...
(Again, this is what I heard directly from people who took a required Western Civilization undergrad class at UNM that Bertold was teaching, and from some who specifically avoided taking the class when he was teaching it.)

Of course you didn't need to profess Christianity in the class, but he would provoke (and that's the correct word: provoke) responses from students to find out their beliefs. Furthermore, based on answers to essay questions and normal class discussions he would generally have a pretty good idea of which students in his class would espouse his beliefs and which students would not.

One friend of mine who graduated on the national Dean's list and I believe Summa Cum Laude would not risk getting a lone "F" from him and was scared-to-death that she would be scheduled with that class, with him teaching it.

---------------------
I read someone say that "the system worked" (to oust this tenured professor) and that is true, but it took that outrageous statement he made, while well over a decade worth of undergrad students had to sit through his classes where it was "his-way-or-the-highway".

---------------------
As for the Florida legislation -- When I first read some of the posts at the begining of the thread, I though some might be overreacting and I didn't think that that legislation was aimed at allowing such things as teaching creationism, alternate scientific theories that were far off the mainstream, etc. The way it is worded is seems to be aimed at these types of professors I described: the "Bertold's" and "Churchill's" of academia.

However, I agree with some that the wording is so broad, (and the Florida supreme court is so broad minded) that eventually some of these things (scientific) would probably come up for challenge. So, the FL leg. either needs to "can" the bill as-is, or change the language to make it even more specific to what is intended (IMHO).

---------------------
I guess I need to finish reading every post in the thread, now -- when time permits. :oops:

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 09:26 PM
I'm just glad this is Florida. That lets Texas off the hook for awhile. Our lege is too busy trying to rewrite Houston traffic laws or fund schools with gambling and taxes on nudey bars to get involved in such nonsense.

Not that I think it matters, but I've contacted my state representative and my state senator trying to get them to vote against.Oh, it matters a great deal. If we don't speak up how can we complain when the stuff passes or these people get re-elected. Even if you think your vote doesn't count, speak up anyway. Someone else is speaking up getting this nonsense in the legislature in the first place.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 09:29 PM
This bill is aimed at professors who's main goal is not teaching, but indoctrination into their political beliefs.

I'll give you an example of such a professor here at the University of New Mexico, Richard Berthold. He taught undergrad social science, history, and political science. If you professed any form of Christianity you were failed in his class, no matter how well your classwork was done; no matter how well your arguments were formed; no matter how well you did on the tests; you were failed.

According to what I heard and read (newspaper articles) the only way to "pass" his classes was to agree with his political and religious viewpoint. Two good friends who graduated from UNM have told me these things.

A Western Civilization class was an undergrad requirement for almost every major and while he was not the only instructor, many students would try and schedule that particular class in a semester when another professor was teaching it.

Complaints and protests against this professor finally led to his removal a few years ago. The "straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back" was some public political statements he made, very similar to what Colorado University's Ward Churchill made back in January.

College is not a place for indoctrination, but as that bill asks for, a place for academic freedom.But then it is up to the University to fire the guy, which it looks like they did, not the legislature to tell the University what to teach. This is college, not grade school!!!!

And, wouldn't the students have had a choice to take the class or not for that matter?

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 09:33 PM
I'm perplexed by something in the news article:

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.
Who is this "legislative staff"? Who do they work for? How did they arrive at these interpretations?I assume they are talking about either the web site's staff or the staff of the bill's author the web reporters interviewed. But so what? I linked to the text of the bill. Read it for yourself.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-01, 09:41 PM
I assume they are talking about either the web site's staff or the staff of the bill's author the web reporters interviewed. But so what? I linked to the text of the bill. Read it for yourself.

Actually, I was thinking that the analysis seemed biased against the bill, particularly the point about the Socratic method. The suggestion that professors would no longer be able to require students to explain their thinking seems a very stretchy interpretation of the bill's actual language, which just makes general references to discrimination, and does not even mention "public ridicule". It's the kind of interpretation that I would expect from either a neutral party or an opponent of the bill, but not from a supporter. That's why I was wondering who these legislative staffers are and who they're working for.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 09:46 PM
I certainly don't like self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators in the classroom. But I also don't like self-appointed culture crusaders in the legislatures throwing monkey wrenches into a generally well-functioning academic system with heavy-handed and politically opportunistic "solutions" to a problem that really needs a thoughtful and delicate approach.

I think the problem is a little more deep-rooted than that. I think the real root of this bill is the modern tendancy to work on the basis of "Gee, there is a problem; lets make up a law to solve it." In that sense we're getting dangerously close to a krytocracy. Laws, almost be definition are clubs; the problems afflicting academia are not susceptible to treatment by clubbing.
Agreed.

I would disagree with your comment that the academic system is generally well-functioning. Based on our experience with people who apply for jobs, it's functioning extremely badly - in great part precisely due to the types of "self-appointed political-indoctrination dictators" we're discussing.
That may be. My general impression was that the system is well-functioning, but I am certainly not an insider. I'd like to ask, who is the "we" that you refer to in "our experience"? You hint at having direct experience with these matters; could you elaborate?The measure of our universities is the success or failure of the graduates in the working world.

I'd like to see more ethics in marketing and business management but I don't think you could say the business graduates are failing.

While we may be doing a poor job with science in K-12, the universities are still producing excellent results.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 10:00 PM
There was a comment about "disturbingly high percentage of tenured professors." What percent is that?

2Hi. Unfortunately, no systematic study has been done so we don't know the exact numbers. However monitoring sites that report on such things (for example the campuswatch mentined earlier) document the problem as being spread across a large number of universities (no, I haven't actually counted them) across the country. Therefore, in view of the threat to acdemic freedom that such people present, I believe the term "disturbingly high" is justified. Even the presence of a small number (in absolute terms) of such people is disturbing.


Also the statement that they are Marxist. How do you know that?

There's an old saying; when it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its probable that it is a duck. When the people in question spout straight Marxist propaganda, persecute everybody who disagrees with such propaganda and behave like Marxist goons, its reasonable to assume they are Marxists. Again, consult the monitoring groups; they document the behavior in question for you. Add into that, first-hand experience form people who are leaving university and its pretty obvious where the bulk of the problem is situated. I'll make this clear; I will condemn fundamentalist Christian, or extreme right staff members who behave the same way with equal vigor, but the documentation and personal experience does show that the center of the problem is with the extreme left.This is an assessment I find difficult to accept. I'm sorry but from my perspective this stereotyped view comes right from the right wing propaganda machine. This bill wasn't aimed at professors who teach political science. It was aimed at those that teach science that contradicts the Bible.

If you really think universities are full of tenured professors out there brainwashing kids into 'Marxists' points of view then back it up with some more facts than your "personal experience". Just what "documentation" is there to support such a claim?

I'll post again after looking at your "campus watch" site. Right now I'll guess it is a religious right wing group that make claims with anecdotes and distorted evidence or evidence without supporting citations. If I'm wrong I will retract these words. If I'm right, Ill support my assessment.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 10:08 PM
http://www.campus-watch.org/Right assessment, wrong religion, wrong politics.

I have no time to hunt through this site. How about linking to your supporting evidence there are a significant number of "Marxists" tenured professors in US universities and that it is a 'problem'.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 10:11 PM
I really don't see where you're coming from here.

... the politicization of teaching in universities and the activities of some faculty members who automatically fail students who challenge their dogma. ....my experience has been is that it is broken and does need fixing. However this way of "fixing it" is fundamentally misconceived.

In short where I'm comingf rom is the fact this is a very bad law that will not solve the problem, doesn't mean that there is not a problem that needs fixing.You need to support this claim.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 10:23 PM
..... I suspect it's mostly just because academic careers don't pay very well. A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners. Therefore, conservatives will be underrepresented in the universities even without any "totalitarians" blackballing them.Or maybe...the left has a more science leaning, educated point of view and the right are more attracted to dogmatic thought.

I kid before anyone has a cow.

I think one must be very careful making any of these stereotypes. I was surprised to find some statistics that Republicans had higher averaged education level than Democrats. You just can't paint this broad brush over American universities. There are for example business and economic degrees that must have professors interested in those fields. There are science fields where research tops salaries in attracting professors. There is enough diversity in education that I don't buy that stereotype about left leaning universities unless one qualifies the claim. What cities are big universities in? Are there more universities in cities as opposed to rural areas? Student protests played a big role in the 60s and 70s but was it a function of age or of political position?

If you are going to make claims the Republicans are in business and the Democrats are in education or something to that effect I think you would be waaay over simplifying the world.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 10:40 PM
I am just overwhelmed by the stupidity of this. Do you think the author of this bill ever even went to college? Do they really think the college or university cannot handle hiring quality staff without this nonsensical oversight? What fantasy world do these idiots live in?


Exactly what do you not like about the wording of the proposed law?

link to the proposed new law in Florida (http://www.flsenate.gov/cgi-bin/view_page.pl?Tab=session&Submenu=1&FT=D&File=hb083 700.html&Directory=session/2005/House/bills/billtext/html/)I thought my post was pretty clear about what is wrong with the law no matter how it is worded. The legislature does not need to stick it's politics into academia at the university level. That would be an extremely dangerous cliff to fall off of to use the slippery slope analogy.

Have legislators like these confirmed the university administration and market forces, (which also drive university course offerings because they have to attract students, it isn't like students are forced to attend), have failed to regulate the business of education to such a point the state must intervene? Have legislators like these shown the normal system for a student to protest a grade or course content or a professor using class time in one field to proselytize in another field has so broken down the legislature must intervene and offer judicial relief for the student?

Well lets just legislate if you don't like the politics of your boss who says you can't discuss yours at work can be sued for causing you mental duress. Why not? Clearly the legislature should get involved.

Or perhaps you say tax dollars go to the institutions. Do you really want the politics of the day directing your tax supported university curriculum? That's nuts! I, for one, would like academia controlling university curricula, thank you. I think they are more qualified.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 10:44 PM
My firm belief is that those institutions provide a pool of individuals who would be perfectly happy to settle into the academy, if they had a fair shot at finding an academic job.
Begs the question. Who said they don't have a fair shot at finding an academic job?I totally agree this premise has not been supported.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 10:47 PM
I guess I was thinking about a hypothetical student at one of those "fundie" universities somehow feeling his oats and questioning the idiocy the prof is dishing out, and then invoking this law. Somehow I'm sure the "university" in question would wriggle out of being responsible under a law that they only wanted to point the other way.
The news article wasn't clear on this point, but I'm guessing this bill would only affect the public universities.That would be correct.
WHEREAS, the principles enumerated in this act fully apply
12 only to public postsecondary institutions, and nothing in this
13 act shall be construed as interfering with the right of a
14 private postsecondary institution to restrict academic freedom
15 on the basis of creed or belief, and

beskeptical
2005-Apr-01, 11:07 PM
Actually, I was thinking that the analysis seemed biased against the bill, particularly the point about the Socratic method. The suggestion that professors would no longer be able to require students to explain their thinking seems a very stretchy interpretation of the bill's actual language, which just makes general references to discrimination, and does not even mention "public ridicule". It's the kind of interpretation that I would expect from either a neutral party or an opponent of the bill, but not from a supporter. That's why I was wondering who these legislative staffers are and who they're working for.

(2) Students have a right to expect that they will be
126 graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and
127 appropriate knowledge of the subjects they study and that they
128 will not be discriminated against on the basis of their
129 political or religious beliefs.
(3) Students have a right to expect that their academic
131 freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed
132 upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial
133 matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to
134 the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical
135 purpose.
(6) Faculty and instructors have a right to academic
148 freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but they
149 should make their students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints
150 other than their own and should encourage intellectual honesty,
151 civil debate, and critical analysis of ideas in the pursuit of
152 knowledge and truth.While this may sound like a noble concept, who wouldn't agree, it has that basic ID is science dilemma built right in. How do you settle a "religious" disagreement to a biology class that is completely based on evolution, as biology is? What exactly is a "reasoned answer" and who decides?

I found the news analysis to be particularly generous trying to see more than the evolution debate in the proposed law. It looks exactly like the disguised 'teach ID as science' material that hides it's real message which is pretend science doesn't contradict the Bible. So while one may read, "gee it's just a student bill of rights", I see no motive for a student 'bill of rights' if religion vs science wasn't the underlying intent.

Do you see any other reason this bill was necessary?

Makgraf
2005-Apr-01, 11:18 PM
Also, Bainbridge connects the low-pay argument to the argument that "liberals are better people than conservatives", which is not at all what I'm trying to say.
Ah okay, here's the context for where the quote's from. A while ago Jon Chait (a super-awesome editor at The New Republic (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=369912&highlight=republic&#369912) ) wrote an article about Republicans in academia making some similar arguments that you did. On his website Bainbridge quoted Chait (http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2004/12/jonathan_chair_.html):
1. "First, Republicans don't particularly want to be professors. To go into academia — a highly competitive field that does not offer great riches — you have to believe that living the life of the mind is more valuable than making a Wall Street salary."
Then he gave the reply I quoted above. When deciding which to link to I thought that the TCS one was more interesting. I hope you didn't get the impression that I was insinuating you were making a 'liberals-are-better-people' argument.


I would challenge the automatic assumption that political bias in the universities is bad for society. (Full disclosure: I am rather liberal myself, so from my own viewpoint, a slight leftward bias anywhere looks good. But that's not part of the argument I'm trying to make.)

I strongly doubt that students are being "indoctrinated" by their professors, even if that's what some professors are trying to do. College students as a group tend to be suspicious of authority
This is an excellent point. Leftist domination of universities might actually even be good for universities. Students might reject left-wing orthodoxy because it's coming from "The Man". Plus a little dash of repression (but not enough to actually hurt someone) is good for firing them up and getting them invovled. This article (http://www.campusprogress.org/features/161/guy-benson-the-message) on a conservative student and the message discipline/organization that the universities have inadvertently helped nurture.




A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners.
Steve Bainbridge (http://www.techcentralstation.com/120804C.html) comments on that argument:
What about all those conservatives who have taken low paying jobs at think tanks like Cato, Heritage, or AEI? Or the public interest lawyers working at low paying jobs at places like the Pacific Legal Foundation?
Ignoratio elenchi. What does it matter if some rightwingers earn little? The fact remains that many of them have extremely influential and powerful positions in society.
Huh? That's a non sequitur (I can use latin too :P). The initial argument was that rightwingers would rather go into business (where they could make lots of money) than academia which pays less. Bainbridge pointed to jobs that are very similar to universities in terms of pay and task (thinking, writing, teaching).



My firm belief is that those institutions provide a pool of individuals who would be perfectly happy to settle into the academy, if they had a fair shot at finding an academic job.
Begs the question. Who said they don't have a fair shot at finding an academic job?
Well he does. That's what the rest of the article is about (http://www.techcentralstation.com/120804C.html)


I'll post again after looking at your "campus watch" site.
You should check out Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) (http://www.thefire.org) (Which I think I linked to in passing before). FIRE is an organization that defends campus fire speech, of the right and the left, from government and administration actions. Campus-Watch has some useful stuff but it's coming from a particular direction.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-01, 11:58 PM
Here's a report in the Washington Post about a new study that shows a strong leftward lean in U.S. universities:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8427-2005Mar28.html

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

. . .

"What's most striking is how few conservatives there are in any field," said Robert Lichter, a professor at George Mason University and a co-author of the study. "There was no field we studied in which there were more conservatives than liberals or more Republicans than Democrats. . . . "

. . .

The professors and instructors surveyed are, strongly or somewhat, in favor of abortion rights (84 percent); believe homosexuality is acceptable (67 percent); and want more environmental protection "even if it raises prices or costs jobs" (88 percent). What's more, the study found, 65 percent want the government to ensure full employment, a stance to the left of the Democratic Party.

. . .

The researchers say that liberals, men and non-regular churchgoers are more likely to be teaching at top schools, while conservatives, women and more religious faculty are more likely to be relegated to lower-tier colleges and universities.

. . .

The most liberal faculties are those devoted to the humanities (81 percent) and social sciences (75 percent), according to the study. But liberals outnumbered conservatives even among engineering faculty (51 percent to 19 percent) and business faculty (49 percent to 39 percent).

. . .

Spacewriter
2005-Apr-02, 01:45 AM
So does this mean that conservatives aren't intellectually able to cut the mustard in higher education? Or that they aren't interested in actually teaching at universities but they're happy to legislate what IS taught so they don't have to get their hands dirty in those low-paying academic jobs?

You see, one can draw many conclusions that seem equally valid from such newspaper snippets.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-02, 02:11 AM
So does this mean that conservatives aren't intellectually able to cut the mustard in higher education? Or that they aren't interested in actually teaching at universities but they're happy to legislate what IS taught so they don't have to get their hands dirty in those low-paying academic jobs?

You see, one can draw many conclusions that seem equally valid from such newspaper snippets.
You can draw somewhat more informed conclusions if you read the whole article instead of just the snippets, but you'll still just be speculating. I would be very interested in a study into the effect of academic careers on people's politics. Do college professors tend to have the same political views when they're first hired by a university as they do five years later, or do they change? The question interests me because I think people's ideologies can be influenced by those of their peers in the communities they live and work in.

Edited for spelling.

Spacewriter
2005-Apr-02, 03:03 AM
So does this mean that conservatives aren't intellectually able to cut the mustard in higher education? Or that they aren't interested in actually teaching at universities but they're happy to legislate what IS taught so they don't have to get their hands dirty in those low-paying academic jobs?

You see, one can draw many conclusions that seem equally valid from such newspaper snippets.
You can draw somewhat more informed conclusions if you read the whole article instead of just the snippets, but you'll still just be speculating. I would be very interested in a study into the effect of academic careers on people's politics. Do college professors tend to have the same political views when they're first hired by a university as they do five years later, or do they change? The question interests me because I think people's ideologies can be influenced by those of their peers in the communities they live and work in.

Edited for spelling.


It probably also depends on their disciplines. Can we say that math professors are going to tend to be more left or right than, oh, say the art department or sociology or languages or physics?

Disinfo Agent
2005-Apr-02, 01:08 PM
A highly educated person can make far more money going into business instead, an option that appeals to right-leaners more than left-leaners.
Steve Bainbridge (http://www.techcentralstation.com/120804C.html) comments on that argument:
What about all those conservatives who have taken low paying jobs at think tanks like Cato, Heritage, or AEI? Or the public interest lawyers working at low paying jobs at places like the Pacific Legal Foundation?
Ignoratio elenchi. What does it matter if some rightwingers earn little? The fact remains that many of them have extremely influential and powerful positions in society.
Huh? That's a non sequitur (I can use latin too :P). The initial argument was that rightwingers would rather go into business (where they could make lots of money) than academia which pays less. Bainbridge pointed to jobs that are very similar to universities in terms of pay and task (thinking, writing, teaching).
Sorry. I did misread your post.
About this, I think beskeptical has given an interesting contribution above (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=447035&#447035).

beskeptical
2005-Apr-02, 08:17 PM
Here's a report in the Washington Post about a new study that shows a strong leftward lean in U.S. universities:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8427-2005Mar28.html

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

. . .

"What's most striking is how few conservatives there are in any field," said Robert Lichter, a professor at George Mason University and a co-author of the study. "There was no field we studied in which there were more conservatives than liberals or more Republicans than Democrats. . . . "

. . .

The professors and instructors surveyed are, strongly or somewhat, in favor of abortion rights (84 percent); believe homosexuality is acceptable (67 percent); and want more environmental protection "even if it raises prices or costs jobs" (88 percent). What's more, the study found, 65 percent want the government to ensure full employment, a stance to the left of the Democratic Party.

. . .

The researchers say that liberals, men and non-regular churchgoers are more likely to be teaching at top schools, while conservatives, women and more religious faculty are more likely to be relegated to lower-tier colleges and universities.

. . .

The most liberal faculties are those devoted to the humanities (81 percent) and social sciences (75 percent), according to the study. But liberals outnumbered conservatives even among engineering faculty (51 percent to 19 percent) and business faculty (49 percent to 39 percent).

. . .I responded to this here (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=447343&#447343) so the thread title would inform other readers that we had shifted to a slightly different subject. (I didn't think this post was a hyjack or anything like that.)

Van Rijn
2005-Apr-03, 03:59 AM
Bolding added for emphasis:


Given the incredibly dangerous right tilt we're seeing in society, universities should be encouraged to remain "on the left" -- if for no other reason than it gives some balance to things.

Having spent 17 years in a university environment (grad school and research) I ran into very little of what the Florida legislators have got their panties in a knot about. I see the whole thing in Florida as another flexing of the political right muscle and not about balancing things. Somebody got their panties in a knot over what one prof said and he's decided to make an example by restricting free speech for everybody. How very democratic.


Well, given your statements, I would suggest it would be unlikely for you to notice a "left leaning" bias.


By the way, it seems to be becoming fashionable to label anybody whose thinking doesn't satisfy the right wing's desire for godliness as "Marxist." Another bad move.

Back at my university, a Socialogy professor clearly was a Marxist Socialist. I still have my copies of the "Communist Manifesto" and "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalisim." There were other texts that had an intensely socialist position, nothing was presented (other than nasty comments) about other positions. I did learn something from the class (probably not what he hoped, I had been a "Democrat by Default" at that point) and he was pretty open to discussion, but I was careful about what I said, too. There were quite a few classes where the professors had positions I would consider quite far to the "left." In another, I suffered through the ideology of "The Limits To Growth." The professor of a history class thought we should radically reduce the size of our military and spent a lot of time on the issue (this was in 1981). I've heard plenty of similar stories from others since then and it doesn't appear things have changed much. I don't think I was discriminated against, but I was careful about what I said and I was exposed to only a narrow spectrum of political viewpoints.

I've read the bill (http://www.flsenate.gov/cgi-bin/view_page.pl?Tab=session&Submenu=1&FT=D&File=hb083 700.html&Directory=session/2005/House/bills/billtext/html/) and I find little to disagree with. It appears to apply ONLY if someone is discriminated against in a public (not private) institution due to political or religious beliefs. You are still expected to keep up academically. I do have concerns about how it might be used in practice and whether it is necessary, but I would like to know what part of the bill do you find objectionable?

Spacewriter
2005-Apr-03, 05:07 AM
My politics are decidedly middle of the road, thank you very much. Assumptions you made are inaccurate.

This is getting too close to arguing politics.

Brady Yoon
2005-Apr-03, 05:42 AM
I find it ironic that we have been debating our different political views so far, yet people say "This is getting close to arguing about politics."

Why can't we just acknowledge that these discussions, by their very nature, are political discussions?

I'm really annoyed at everything that's going on right now. These petty laws are getting to my nerves. People are getting too soft. We're going to hear things you don't like, and sometimes we're going to have to live with it. People need to get tough and real and know that not everyone agrees with them. I don't agree with what religion always says, but I understand that people have different beliefs. I keep my mouth shut and I understand don't always hear what I want to hear. I don't act like a wimp and ask for money. I think law is invading our society so much as to we can't act naturally and speak without politcal correctness.

:evil:

And to beskeptical, I don't like to stereotype either, but I'm sure that campuses are leftist, and this is supported by statistics. Stereotypes are bad, but sometimes, facts are facts. I support democratic ideas because I believe people must be progressive and change to prosper.

Van Rijn
2005-Apr-03, 06:22 AM
My politics are decidedly middle of the road, thank you very much. Assumptions you made are inaccurate.

This is getting too close to arguing politics.

It is quite possible I misintrepeted your statements, but they seemed quite suggestive. You may wish to choose them with more care. In any event, do you have an opinion on the text of the bill?

beskeptical
2005-Apr-04, 09:32 AM
I find it ironic that we have been debating our different political views so far, yet people say "This is getting close to arguing about politics."

Why can't we just acknowledge that these discussions, by their very nature, are political discussions?

[snip]

And to beskeptical, I don't like to stereotype either, but I'm sure that campuses are leftist, and this is supported by statistics. Stereotypes are bad, but sometimes, facts are facts. I support democratic ideas because I believe people must be progressive and change to prosper.The point I make with the thread is not which side your politics lie, it's whether you want the state legislature micro-managing your college class content.

As to the facts as you say, I addressed this in the other thread linked above. The problem comes in using labels like 'left' and 'right' which have very broad scopes. I looked at the carefully done study Tomba linked to and while it did support the left leaning beliefs on tolerance, it did not support the left leaning beliefs on economics.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Apr-04, 12:45 PM
And to beskeptical, I don't like to stereotype either, but I'm sure that campuses are leftist, and this is supported by statistics.
What statistics?
The authors of the article that beskeptical discusses on the other thread write:


To our knowledge this is the first time this sort of empirical analysis has been applied to this question, and there may be much more to learn from additional data analysis or examination of other data sets.

farmerjumperdon
2005-Apr-04, 01:47 PM
After seeing parts of the proposed law, I would agree that this is obviously aimed at science and the resistance to knowledge that I call The Propogation of Ignorance.

An effort to clean up any problem with a few professors would not be taking this approach. It would be more of a policing and enforcement action. This is being given far too much latitude as can be evidenced by the vague language.

Who will decide what the terms "reasoned answers", "appropriate knowledge", "serious scholarly viewpoints" mean and what constitutes each? Guaranteed there will be fundamentalist shills doing someone's bidding by bringing suit against their school and biology professor because they felt they gave a reasoned answer to a question based on their belief that evolution is not appropriate knowledge and that ID is a serious scholarly viewpoint.

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

As someone said earlier - if it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, walks like a duck - it's a duck. This is strictly born out of fear of knowledge that contradicts someone's long held faith.

I'm having a cartoon bubble with Karl Marx, in Groucho glasses, trying to get George Bush to say the word delivered earlier by the duck. The word is Evolution, which he does get, but accidentally pronounces it Resolution.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-07, 08:35 AM
WOW!!!!!!

This is waaaay worse than some Florida Bill. I heard there was some website that had a 'sample bill' for other state legislators to promote in their own states so I tracked it down.

Students for Academic Freedom (http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/)

Clicking on the right hand side link to: "National and State Legislation Texts:" you get the scope of this campaign.
National:

House Concurrent Resolution 318
Introduced by Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston into the U.S. House of Representatives

State:

California Senate Bill No. 5

Colorado House Bill, HB 04-1315
Introduced by Rep. Shawn Mitchell

Colorado Joint Resolution
In support of the Memorandum of Understanding

Colorado Memorandum of Understanding
Signed by the presidents of the major universities in Colorado agreeing to incorporate the principles of the Academic Bill of Rights in their institutions.

Florida House Bill 837

Georgia Senate Resolution 661
Introduced by Senators Johnson of the 1st, Hamrick of the 30th, Smith of the 52nd and Balfour of the 9th
Adopted March 22, 2004, 1:50 p.m. – 41 Yeas, 5 Nays, 8 NV, 2 Excused

Indiana House Bill 1531

Maine LD 1194

Massachusetts Legislative Bill 1234

Minnesota Senate Bill 1988

North Carolina Senate Bill 1139

Ohio Senate Bill 24

Tennessee House Bill 432 and Senate Bill 1117

Washington House Bill 1991

ALEC Model Resolution

ALEC Model Bill

If that wasn't bad enough you have The Student Handbook (http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/texts/SAF%20handbook%20FINAL%202.pdf) with sections like
What Is An Abuse of Academic Freedom?
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably already convinced that the intrusion of politics into the classroom is a problem on most college campuses. Students for Academic Freedom supports the free speech rights of professors and believes that faculty members should be able to determine the content of their courses. These rights, however, do not provide a license to use the classroom as a political soapbox, or provide an excuse for a professor to ridicule or otherwise demean particular religious or cultural views a student may hold. Nor do they supersede professors’ obligations to uphold professional educational standards. These include fairness to all students. They include the responsibility to make students aware of the spectrum of scholarly viewpoints on any given subject. They include the responsibility to counsel students and to encourage their intellectual development. Treating students as political adversaries is counter-productive to this task. These professional standards are recognized by the American Association of University Professors and have been since 1915. In 1915, the American Association of University Professors issued its first report on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The premise of this report was that human knowledge is a never-ending pursuit of the truth; that there is no humanly accessible truth that is not in principle open to challenge; and that no party or intellectual faction can be assumed to have a monopoly on wisdom. Therefore, learning is most likely to thrive in an environment of intellectual diversity that protects and fosters independence of thought and speech.

C. Types of Classroom Abuses
Classroom abuses include, but are not limited to:
Partisan comments, presentations or materials unrelated to the subject of the class. Personal opinions on religion, politics, and other sensitive topics should be prefaced by the disclaimer that the views are the professor’s own, and disagreement in any form will be both encouraged and respected. Reading lists, class lectures, or coverage of issues that do not make students aware of the existence of intellectually significant dissenting views, even if only one such view is presented. Abusive or disrespectful treatment of dissenting student comments. The professor should never treat students rudely, ignore them, or refuse to call on them because of their opinions. Politicized grading and class assessments. Students should not fear that their grades will be lowered if they disagree with the professor on a matter of political or religious opinion.

I know I am not mis-judging this campaign. It has not grown out of offense at professors being 'rude' or intolerant of the students in their classes. It has not grown out of professors who have somehow had their ranks filled with political activists using their classrooms as bully pulpits. It has not grown out of the universal or wholesale failure of university administrations to address individual student complaints.

It has grown out of the widespread propaganda encouraging tactics of both right wing political and right wing religious activists. Don't argue with my opinion here. If you disagree then respond to Professor Rashid Khalidi's points below. I only have a gut feeling. The Professor verbalized the reasons for my gut feeling better than I could have.

Democracy Now's coverage of the topic (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/06/1421208) did not have a 'con' presenter that was very effective in making the important points. The 'pro' presenter was the author of the Florida legislation. His big gripe was his personal experience of being told evolution was a fact and if he didn't buy it he shouldn't be in the class. Well, evolution is as much a fact as gravity. Evolution is not a theory in question. What else should the professor be saying? How about, "If you think an intelligent designer is holding your feet on the planet I respect your point of view?"

A follow up news piece (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/06/1421213) covered a teach-in addressing academic freedom in direct response to this movement that was held at Columbia University:

Columbia U. Prof. Rashid Khalidi: "Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom Are Necessary For Unpopular and Difficult Ideas"

I have included a large part of the transcript because I think it is a very clear explanation why my gut feeling the activities like promoting these bills are so threatening.
PROF. RASHID KHALIDI: Why are academic freedom and freedom of speech necessary? They're not necessary to defend conventional popular ideas. You don't need freedom of speech to defend ideas that everybody agrees with. Freedom of speech and academic freedom are particularly necessary for unpopular and difficult ideas, for unconventional ideas, for ideas that challenge reigning orthodoxy. Academic freedom is important, secondly, because it's necessary to push the frontiers of knowledge forward. That in turn requires protection. That in turn requires support. Pushing the boundaries, pushing at what is accepted, requires the kind of support that academic freedom gives us.

[snip]

Because of its value, in all of these spheres, it's absolutely vital to defend academic freedom. This is something that's valuable to all of us. It's valuable to students, it’s valuable to the faculty, it's valuable to society as a whole. If students were coming to be told ideas that they arrived at university with, they would be getting nothing of value here. If they were not to be challenged, if they were not to be forced to rethink the things that they come here as 18-year-olds or 22-year-olds or 25-year-olds with, what in heaven's name would be the point of the university? What would in heaven's name would be the point of teaching? We would just come here with monolithic conventional ideas, and we would leave here with the same monolithic conventional ideas. This is why academic freedom is absolutely vital. It's not just vital to us, the academics. It's vital to everybody in this society and it is something which has to be defended not just by academics, but also by students. It's too valuable to be left to politicians, and heaven knows, it's too valuable to be left to administrators.

Now, what is the current environment in which the so-called crisis at Columbia has developed? And I agree fully with one of the previous speakers, this is an utterly artificial crisis created from without the university for purposes that are, in fact, much larger than the university. The first element of this larger environment is a campaign that is nationwide in scope, against the autonomy of the universities in the broadest sense. It's a campaign taking place in state legislatures. It's a campaign taking place in the columns of newspapers. It's a campaign which argues that there must be balance in universities. It's a campaign that based on an utterly spurious argument that the universities are strongholds of radical and liberal ideas. Would that they were strongholds of radical and liberal ideas. Would that the medical schools and the pharmaceutical schools were challenging the stranglehold of industrial medicine, of the industrial pharmaceutical industry. Would that agriculture schools -- would that agriculture schools or business schools were challenging the reigning orthodoxies. Would that economics departments, would that engineering schools, would that schools of international affairs were vigorously challenging the reigning orthodoxies in their fields. Would -- I could go on and on and on. We should challenge these ludicrous assertions, which are permeating not just the columns of the right wing press, but which we find before important state legislatures today.

captain swoop
2005-Apr-07, 01:37 PM
From an interview on Democracy Now!

REP. DENNIS BAXLEY:


Yes. I’d be happy to respond to that. First
of all, the whole idea of intelligent design being taught is
never something that I have advocated. I merely illustrated that
I went on an anthropology class as a student, and was
dogmatically told that evolution is a fact. There's no missing
link. I don't want to hear anything about creation or
intelligent design. And if you don't like any of that, there's
the door. That kind of dogmatism is what I was addressing, not
that they needed to teach -- they can teach whatever they want
to teach, but what the bill requires is that you give different
schools of thought, and not just the dogma of an individual
professor.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-07, 06:57 PM
From an interview on Democracy Now!

REP. DENNIS BAXLEY:


Yes. I’d be happy to respond to that. First
of all, the whole idea of intelligent design being taught is
never something that I have advocated. I merely illustrated that
I went on an anthropology class as a student, and was
dogmatically told that evolution is a fact. There's no missing
link. I don't want to hear anything about creation or
intelligent design. And if you don't like any of that, there's
the door. That kind of dogmatism is what I was addressing, not
that they needed to teach -- they can teach whatever they want
to teach, but what the bill requires is that you give different
schools of thought, and not just the dogma of an individual
professor.
So if the professor wants to teach anthropology and not discuss evolution, and the student won't take a simple, "that underlying premise is firmly established", so the student continues to object....

We don't know from this anecdote how polite the professor was before the final statement if indeed the final statement was said in exactly this way. We have no information whether the state legislator filed any kind of grievance, nor even investigated if the grievance procedure might have addressed the problem.

And should a professor teaching anthropology have to hold up his class to debate a basic concept the student should have had perhaps as a prerequisite before taking the class? This just shows what a mess it is becoming not to get this dumb debate off the table.

One of my first discussions on this BB led to incredulity when I said evolution is a fact. Even some of the more learned members felt I was making a declaration not supported by the evidence. But genetic science has CONFIRMED evolution is a fact. I guess I should put my old sig back on:

Better put on your seatbelt, gravity is only a theory.

(or something like that.)

I think the Rep.'s example suggests it was a religious objection he personally had to a class that led him to sponsor this bill.

kittynboi
2005-Apr-08, 01:16 AM
With all this talk about professors introducing "controversial" material to classes, its worth asking what is considered "controversial". Is it controversy in academia? Political contorversy? Controversy in a specific field? What about things like volution and other aspects of science that are not "controversial" in academia but are a "controversy" in the public mind.

This may sound a strange statement, but I see this kind of attitude, that is, the on behind this bill, as democracy run amok, meaning that some people seem to think that every last thing in society should be up for a vote and that all things, science, academia, whats taught in courses, whos best qualified to teach it, should be decided by majority opinion.

beskeptical
2005-Apr-08, 07:56 AM
With all this talk about professors introducing "controversial" material to classes, its worth asking what is considered "controversial". Is it controversy in academia? Political contorversy? Controversy in a specific field? What about things like volution and other aspects of science that are not "controversial" in academia but are a "controversy" in the public mind.

This may sound a strange statement, but I see this kind of attitude, that is, the on behind this bill, as democracy run amok, meaning that some people seem to think that every last thing in society should be up for a vote and that all things, science, academia, whats taught in courses, whos best qualified to teach it, should be decided by majority opinion.The "wedge" strategy of a fairly well coordinated group of fundamentalists is to make their campaigns like teaching 'science' distorted to agree with the Biblical versions of history, into proxy campaigns where the real issue which is not acceptable is replaced by a proxy issue that is acceptable.

So for example, instead of arguing the Bible's version of Creation should be included whenever cosmology or evolution are discussed in a class, they try to make Creation look as if scientific evidence supports it or at least does not rule it out. Then they switch the argument to we should teach alternative scientific theories when they exist. But of course we teach alternative scientific theories when they exist. It's just that Creation and ID are not scientific theories by any stretch of the evidence. So the proxy issue covers up the real point, which is we do teach alternative theories, ID isn't one of them.

This whole claim of student rights is a cover up for, "don't tell me anything that contradicts my religious beliefs". So I guess if you tell your geology teacher the goddess, Pele' created Hawaii and there is no mantle 'hot spot' your professor has to accommodate your beliefs.

Disinfo Agent
2005-Apr-08, 09:39 AM
I wonder. Since Pele is not a part of the Christian pantheon, wouldn't it also be considered "offensive to the students' beliefs" to talk about it?

snowcelt
2005-Apr-08, 09:57 AM
...and a great soccer player...

Moose
2005-Apr-08, 12:46 PM
I wonder. Since Pele is not a part of the Christian pantheon, wouldn't it also be considered "offensive to the students' beliefs" to talk about it?

Exactly.