The Stakes are High in Reform of Higher Education

by James C. Sherlock

I exposed in detail yesterday the ironclad control of the University of Virginia by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy at that school.

Maoist-like insistence on radical progressive ideological purity is overseen there by the Red Guards of DEI in every school in the university. To claim otherwise is to insult them and their publicly expressed cause.

The Washington Post yesterday ran a relatively balanced article on Florida’s plans to remake its state institutions of higher education to restore academic freedom and viewpoint diversity. It is The Washington Post — it led with the positions of the left — but got around to the positions of conservatives more quickly than usual.

DeSantis has said he wants to prevent the state’s colleges and universities … from developing “intellectually repressive environments.”

For a fully developed intellectually repressive environment he should see the University of Virginia.

In Florida and nationally, the screams and rending of garments from the left have been as predictable as the sunrise.

But let’s take a look at the key part of what the Florida bill in question actually says:

(3) The Legislature acknowledges the fundamental truth that all persons are equal before the law and have inalienable rights. Accordingly, instruction and supporting materials on the topics enumerated in this section must be consistent with the following principles of individual freedom:
(a) No person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.
(b) No race is inherently superior to another race.
(c) No person should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.
(d) Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness and be rewarded for industry.
(e) A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
(f) A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.

Instructional personnel may facilitate discussions and use curricula to address, in an age-appropriate manner, how the freedoms of persons have been infringed by sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, including topics relating to the enactment and enforcement of laws resulting in sexism, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination, including how recognition of these freedoms have overturned these unjust laws.

However, classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles of this subsection or state academic standards.

I find that newspaper and online articles, including The Washington Post article referenced above, tend to characterize and usually mischaracterize such legislation while avoiding quoting it directly.

Similar tactics were employed to refer to a bill titled “Parental Rights in Education” that proscribes the teaching of gender diversity to kids in K-3 as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  What it actually proscribed was seldom discussed, because the vast majority of Americans agree with it.

There is purpose in the mischaracterizations. The principles themselves are difficult to dispute.

Readers who dispute Florida HB7, the bill under discussion here, may wish to help us out by specifying with which of those principles of individual freedom they disagree. And they may wish to read the entire bill before commenting.

For academics of the progressive left, meaning a considerable majority of university professors and their DEI minders, the core of those principles is anathema.

Instructional personnel may facilitate discussions and use curricula to address … how the freedoms of persons have been infringed by sexism, slavery, racial oppression, racial segregation, and racial discrimination…

…but may not indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the [individual freedom] principles of this subsection.

So, radical progressive dogma can be discussed but cannot be used to indoctrinate students with views inconsistent with the principles of individual freedom. Counterarguments publicly expressed are encouraged.

Who could possibly teach under such a system? In Florida, we’ll find out.

The juxtaposition of the photos of Governor Youngkin and Governor DeSantis has a purpose.

An examination of the repressive academic environment at the University of Virginia shows that Virginia clearly needs a similar law.