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Letter: An assault on freedom

Letter: An assault on freedom

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In March, 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor, German universities came under attack. Jewish instructors and the more liberal Social Democrats were removed from their faculty positions. Universities that had been highly regarded for their academic research and quality instruction, found their academic freedom suddenly gone. The best academic minds, including Albert Einstein, were so repulsed by these actions that they left Germany. But those faculty members who bought into the Nazi social experiment were pleased to see their Jewish and liberal colleagues dismissed so they might teach all subjects with a Nazi slant. Hitler had successfully transformed universities into racial and political institutions that supported the Nazi ideology.

In June, 2021, thirty months after Ron DeSantis was sworn in as governor, Florida universities came under attack. A Republican bill was signed into law requiring universities to survey each employee and each student to gather information about their political beliefs. This information will be used to force professors to teach certain "unrepresented viewpoints" regardless of their academic merit.

As in 1933, many Americans support this clear assault on academic freedom. As the politicians intend, many of the state's best faculty members will feel compelled to leave Florida rather than be forced to teach a curriculum slanted toward certain political ideologies.

A political thumb on university curricula can only threaten our education systems and the nation. Universities should decide what is required to build student competence in their various disciplines free from political ideology;  1933 provides an example of what can otherwise happen.

Don Gladfelter



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