Dear Secretary Paige:
You have admitted that you referred to the National Education
Association, an organization dedicated to furthering the cause
of education in the United States, as a “terrorist organization.”
Your words were, at best, intemperate and, at worst, malicious.
Such disregard for appropriate language demeans both your office
and civil discourse. The flimsy simulacrum of an apology that
you gave to the NEA membership, but from which you pointedly excluded
the national leadership, is insufficient and fails to repair the
damage you have inflicted on educators and their profession.
Jane Buck, Ph.D., President, AAUP
February 24, 2003
“The comments I received reflect a variety of reactions
to what I said. I appreciate the support offered by some and the
criticism offered by others. Both reflect the discourse that is
a part of democracy, a discourse we are fortunate enough to learn
about as a part of our education. As I have already indicated,
my choice of words was inappropriate and I have apologized for
the comments. We may disagree on the stands NEA’s leadership
has taken, but I believe we share a belief in the importance of
our nation’s teachers and the value of what they do every
day. They are the soldiers of our democracy, and I am thankful
for their efforts.”
Protests OFAC’s Action Barring U.S. Scholars
from International Conference
On Friday March 12, 2004, AAUP general secretary Mary Burgan wrote
to Richard Newcomb, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control
in the U.S. Treasury Department, objecting to the reported action
of his office barring U.S. scholars from traveling to Cuba to
participate in an international conference on brain injury.
“This Association has long held that the free circulation
of scholars is an inseparable part of academic freedom,”
Burgan wrote. She further urged that OFAC, together with the Department
of State, facilitate the travel of U.S. scholars to academic conferences
in Cuba, because “the unfettered search for knowledge is
indispensable for the strengthening of a free and orderly world.”
v. Aiken (University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign):
This case involves a challenge by faculty and students at the
University of Illinois to the administration’s policy prohibiting
them from communicating with prospective student athletes. The
faculty and students oppose the school’s use of the Chief
Illiniwek mascot, and they wish to contact prospective student
athletes to make them aware of this controversy.
The district court ruled in favor of the faculty and students,
finding that the administration’s directive violated the
In October 2003 the national AAUP and University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
AAUP Chapter filed a joint amicus brief in support of the faculty’s
right to speak to prospective student athletes about the mascot.
The brief, which was written by Professor Matthew Finkin (University
of Illinois, College of Law), focuses on the protections afforded
to professors to speak out as citizens. In addition, the brief
argues that the First Amendment rights of faculty outweigh the
A copy of the brief is available at www.aaup.org.
for Democracy Network News, March 1, 2004
In the not too distant future, the US Senate will vote on reauthorizing
the Higher Education Act (HEA), which provides significant funding
for colleges and universities. The Act needs to be reauthorized,
but without the political policing and inquisitorial International
Advisory Board, which the House slipped into its version of the
legislation (HR 3077). The Board, its functions, and its mandate
represent a clear and present danger to academic freedom, civil
liberties, and the integrity of education.
In October 2003 the House passed HR 3077, a bill reauthorizing
Title VI, the International Studies component of HEA. The idea
of the International Advisory Board was developed by right-wing
think tanks. Despite its harmless sounding name, the Board is
a centralized, federal, political police agency, with at least
two reserved slots (as the legislation states) for “Federal
agencies that have national security responsibilities” (e.g.
Homeland Security, Defense Department, CIA, FBI, etc.). Since
“national security” is the stated main purpose of
the Act, these agencies will dominate the Board. The Board is
given broad powers to enforce right-wing ideology in the curriculum
and in research, to place academia under surveillance, to regiment
thought, and to purge dissenters, all under the pretext of “national
Among the many kinds of actions the Board is mandated to take,
it can target as “security risks” students, faculty,
programs, or area studies centers that dissent from US foreign
policy and refuse to fund them on political grounds. It can hold
public hearings to denounce dissenters as “anti-American,”
like the House subcommittee hearing on HR 3077 in June 2003, which
featured a crude assault on Edward Said and post-colonial theory
as “unpatriotic.” In the name of a specious “broad
range of views,” the Board can also impose a political test
on academic employment, requiring the hiring of new faculty (e.g.
operatives from right-wing think tanks) irrespective of professional
qualifications and in violation of standard faculty hiring procedures.
Well before the vote, the Senate must hear the voices of thousands
of teachers, students, and citizens concerned with the future
of higher education, academic freedom, and civil liberties.
For detailed background information and an analysis of HR 3077,
go to http://iml.umkc.edu/aaup/facadv13.htm; in the table of contents
click on “HR 3077—the Education for Empire Act,”
by David Brodsky.