April 16, 2024

Florida Bill Attacks Academic Freedom, Silencing Faculty and Students – MCAAUP responds

Colleagues,

By now you likely are aware of the unfortunate political maneuvering in Florida related to higher education. No matter what side of the aisle you find yourself on, I am betting that there is a good chance that it would be quite upsetting if there was any ill-advised attempt to limit your academic freedom, especially if done so by empowering state appointees the right to control your curriculum or program offerings. Clearly, neither ideology nor politics alone provide appropriate or even ample expertise to guide these decisions.

Thankfully we have very limited concerns about this sort of thing here in Maryland and especially here at MC, but that does not mean we should not be engaged in this debate. Anytime anyone outside the classroom attempts to manipulate or otherwise control what happens in the classroom, that is a problem…, no matter where it happens. This is how freedom slowly erodes.

Still, we will not get drawn into a debate about what is, should, and / or should not be taught in our primary and secondary schools. That is not our charge, at least not in our roles with MC. What is our responsibility is to protect the right to decide for ourselves what should or should not be taught in our classes and what programs we will offer in higher ed. That we shall do because we know we are best equipped to make those decisions.

So, please read this joint message from the AAUP and AFT leadership on their view and how you can show your support to colleagues in Florida who are resisting a hostile take-over of their classrooms.

Feel free to share this as you see fit.

Best,

Tito


Dear Alberto,

Like many of you, we’re alarmed about the implications of recent efforts, in several states, to legislate away academic freedom, shared governance and tenure—and with them, the basis for free inquiry at public institutions.

With the introduction of House Bill 999 last week, the Florida Legislature—at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ urging—has doubled down on its attacks on academic freedom with a bill that would effectively silence faculty and students across the ideological spectrum and purge whole fields of study from public universities.

The bill would place control of core curriculums and institutional mission statements entirely in the hands of political appointees. It would limit or ban students’ ability to pursue certain majors or areas of study. It forbids “theoretical or exploratory” content in general education courses. Simply put, it would transform Florida’s colleges and universities into an arm of the DeSantis political operation.

We can’t let this happen on our watch—in Florida or in any state. The AAUP, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Coalition against Censorship have issued a joint statement on this, which you can see and share here.

Please add your name to this statement and commit to fight legislative efforts like these. We’ll be in touch with more actions you can take as our campaign builds.

In unity,
Irene Mulvey, AAUP President
Randi Weingarten, AFT President

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