State lawmakers can’t ban critical race theory on college campuses

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Lawmakers in at least 10 states have introduced bills to regulate faculty speech on college campuses, according to a recent report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Bills introduced in Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma and South Carolina “contain unconstitutional prohibitions on what can be taught in college classrooms. writes FIRE’s Joe Cohnwho adds that “they should not be enacted in their present form”.

While lawmakers have “broader (but not unlimited) power to set the K-12 curriculum,” Cohn writes, “the First Amendment and the principles of academic freedom prevent the government from banning ideas college classrooms.

from iowa Home file 222 and Oklahoma House Bill 2988 reduce public funding universities that teach American history with the use of The Project 1619a controversial collection of essays that attempts to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the national narrative of the United States,” wrote John McWhorter for Raison.

“The General Assembly has a strong interest in promoting an accurate narrative of this nation’s history through the public schools and in shaping the young into knowledgeable and patriotic citizens,” reads HF 222.

Although Oklahoma already passed a bill regulating speech about race and gender in educational institutions in 2021, Rep. Jim Olsen (R – Roland) says it wasn’t as effective as foreseen. “I think one thing we learned in this bill was that we had no teeth,” he said. at ABC News (KTUL)

Oklahoma schools that include Project 1619 in the curriculum would face a 10% reduction in state funding.

In a move similar to Oklahoma, the South Carolina state legislature wants to ban the teaching of “one of the tenets” of critical race theory in colleges. The law project, H4799would also prohibit the use of the 1619 Project in education.

from Alabama House Bill 11 would prohibit colleges from teaching certain concepts regarding race or gender, such as critical race theory. “This bill would also require public K-12 schools and public institutions of higher learning to terminate the employment of any employee who violates its provisions,” the law says.

Introducing the Kentucky Republicans House Bill 18 January 4. The bill prohibits “classroom teaching or discussion that promotes designated concepts related to race, gender and religion.” HB 18 extends regulation of race-related concepts to higher education which was originally limited to K-12 in House Bill 14.

“It has been decades since there was any doubt that government bans on what can be taught in university courses are unconstitutional,” FIRE’s Cohn writes. He points the historical case of 1957 Sweezy v. New Hampshirein which the Supreme Court affirmed the right to academic freedom in higher education.

“Imposing a straitjacket on the intellectual leaders of our colleges and universities would jeopardize the future of our nation,” said the opinion bed. “No area of ​​education is so well understood by man that new discoveries cannot yet be made. This is especially true in the social sciences, where few, if any, principles are accepted as absolutes. erudition cannot flourish in an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust.

While there are many reasons not to treat the 1619 Project as a stand-alone source of American history, students need not be shielded from its ideas. Academia is, in fact, an ideal setting for critically addressing its claims. As for “promoting an accurate account of this nation’s history,” as the Iowa bill and several others claim, that requires recognizing and respecting the constitutional protections given to speakers on college campuses.

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