Sunday, November 30, 2008

Boards gone wild

To borrow the SL from Dean Dad's (pseudonym or real?) blog posting, which made it the third article to appear in national publications discussing the events at the last board meeting. The first posting on I mentioned previously. The other appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education. And I'm not including in that tally articles in the local papers and the Tribune.

I can't imagine that the BOT anticipated this kind of publicity when it launched into this o'erly hasty and ill-conceived policy "revision." Not surprisingly, the item that got the attention of the education press was the "Academic Bill of Rights" known as ABOR. Academic freedom is a dreadfully sensitive topic to my fellow academics. They naturally bristle at the right-wing-inspired ABOR penned by leftie-turned-rightie David Horowitz. Perhaps, like reformed smokers or new convert to religion, there is nothing more dangerous than a reformed leftie. On the surface of it, there is nothing particularly offensive in its language. I was going to reproduce the eight principles (eight rather than the canonical seven?) here, but they are too long and boring. If my interested readers want to study them then I supply a link to my number one source of information, wikipedia of course.

The dangers are all in the subtext and the motivation of the people behind the promotion of ABOR. It's still unclear as to the motivation of the two BOT members responsible for its appearance in the proposed policy manual, where parts of it appear largely verbatim under "educational philosophy." Was it simply a matter of borrowing high-sounding language to avoid the labor of coming up with their own? Or are they motivated by the same zealous philosophies that drive the likes of the Discovery Institute, public enemy number one of science education? Time may tell I suppose, though the elections in April will hopefully render the question moot.

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