Raise your hand if you believe government has too little involvement in our lives. Put down your hands, members of the Obama administration.
During a previous political uprising in the 1980s, academic institutions managed to fend off conservative attacks on some of the subjects taught on their campuses -- from "peace studies" to kinky sexual practices, to bad history -- with cries of "academic freedom." Where are those cries now that the federal government is on the verge of regulating the content of subject matter on college campuses and changing the way these institutions are accredited?
According to the Centennial Institute, a proposed new rule by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) "would place private colleges and universities under the ultimate control of state governments, rather than independent accrediting agencies. The notice of proposed rulemaking was posted in the Federal Register on June 18 for a public comment period ending Aug. 2. It could take effect as soon as November."
Former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, now president of Colorado Christian University, wrote a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan on July 30. In it, he warned of an "all-out politicization of American higher education, endangering academic freedom, due process and First Amendment rights."
The American Council on Education, in a letter of its own, warned of "heavy compliance burdens" and "regulations that appear to overrule state law."
Armstrong says the attempt by the government to regulate curricula "is part of an unprecedented power grab in which government has already moved to dominate such industries as automobiles, energy, health care, banking, home loans and student loans -- and now seeks dominance over the colleges and universities themselves."
Two Colorado Republican congressmen, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, have also sent letters to DOE in which they noted the proposed ruling would undermine "long-established independent accrediting agencies" (Lamborn) and potentially involve the government "in setting course requirements, quality measures, faculty qualifications and various mandates about how and what to teach." (Coffman).
Imagine the outcry if someone identified with the tea party movement had made similar demands of a Republican administration concerning what is taught at Harvard or UC Berkeley. There would be protests in the quads and a lawsuit by the ACLU.
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