'No' on intellectual pluralism

The National Education Association’s college affiliate has “unanimously rejected a proposal to expand its policy on academic and professional freedom to protect ‘intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas’ in the nation’s classrooms.”

The proposal by a Washington state teacher was considered part of “the conservative agenda.”

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  1. Charming.

    My father had to belong to the Tennessee Education Association for some years (10 or so?) until the legislature changed the rules making membership mandatory for professors at state universities. I remember him cursing the dues every year and crowing with delight when he was allowed to quit.

  2. P. Abel says:

    If the free exchange of ideas is considered conservative, perhaps the NEA just voted itself obsolete. Time to really give every teacher a choice, belong or not. Let’s see what base the NEA really has.

  3. “Vote??” Neither NEA nor CTA allow their rank-and-file to vote for their own leadership in free, fair, and contested elections. And forget about voting on the amount paid as dues.

    NEA and CTA have been forcebly taking my money for over 13 years. Each year, for the past several, they’ve been taking more, even though the teachers in our district haven’t had any type of raise in 3 years.

    What enables these unions to behave with this degree of arrogance, condescension, and unaccountability? Three words: “Closed Shop State.”

  4. P. Abel says:


    I wasn’t clear. I meant it’s time for every teacher to actually have the right to vote whether to belong or not to the union(s). I understand that the rank & file don’t normally vote on diddly!

  5. Would this mean that intelligent design would worm its way into science classrooms. Please say no. What a mess.

  6. P. Abel says:

    What a mess? Guess you & I define higher education much differently!

    Whoa, isn’t education at the HS/College level EXACTLY the time to explore many points of view? Or do just the views of some have validity?

    Isn’t it by questioning other points of view and our own we learn their internal/external validity and maybe, just maybe grow as people. Start limiting viewpoints & start burning books? That sounds a death knell for enlightenment.

  7. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    We can always count on the NEA and other Leftist entities to care only about racial and ethnic ‘diversity’….but squelch any diversity of ideas, especially if it diverges from their World View. Political correctness has shoved the Democratic Party and liberalistm firmly into the radical left…yesterday’s classical ‘liberal’ is today’s conservative. Nowhere is the shift to the extreme left more evident than in public education. As a teacher, I am slightly, cautiously, optimistic that common sense and wisdom will prevail and luckily, the Left-wing of the Democratic Party (think Deaniac, Durban and other Doofuses) is self-destructing.

  8. SuperSub says:

    Union leaders are corrupt and are more interested in increasing their own personal wealth and power than representing their constituents. They have become worse than what they were created to combat.

  9. At first I thought this was pretty silly to oppose. Then I thought further. If I am teaching biology and the student puts on the test that the world was created ten thousand years ago in seven twenty four hour days, I mark it wrong. Am I intimidating that student? Is this unfair grading? I ask this in all seriousness. Unintended consequences here?

  10. P. Abel says:


    You can’t figure out how to word the question to get the answer you desire?

    On the other hand, I can see an excellent contrast & compare essay arising out of the discussion! How excellent for students to be able to clearly & succinctly tell US the strengths and weaknesses of each “idea”. Why shouldn’t THEY be able to discern between religious belief & scientific theory.

  11. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Why on earth would you ask that question on a biology test, Atlas? I suppose if you teach history and someone were to suggest that coerced union membership was not freedom you would flunk him, too? If someone failed to acknowledge that the Americas were peaceful and prosperous before Columbus, out the door with them? If someone suggested that the faint congruence between the West coast of Africa and the East coast of South America meant they were once connected, zero? {When I was in high school, that last would have flunked you]

  12. Not to belabor the point but scientists do not consider intelligent design part of science. It is considered philosophy and has no place in a science classroom because it is inherently untestable. (So while this debate could take place in a philosophy course, in a biology course it would be out of place.)

    Science is not like history where different events are open to interpretation based on ones political philosophy or cultural background. The age of the earth has been calculated based on the ratio of different radioactive elements in the rocks of the crust and their rate of radioactive decay over time. No scientist would dispute this evidence. Disagreement is purely on philisophical grounds and has no place in a science course.

  13. Roger Sweeny says:


    I have to disagree a little. I think that anything that tries to explain the universe potentially belongs in a science class. But it has to be evaluated by scientific criteria.

    “Evolution” v. “intelligent design” can make for an interesting lesson in “doing science.” What exactly does “intelligent design” say? Hmm. A problem because it is largely a criticism of Darwinism. So what could a positive ID thoery say? What would it predict? If Darwinism is correct, what discoveries would you expect to see in the next 10-20 years? If ID is correct? What discoveries would seem to disprove Darwinism? ID? And so on.

    Teaching a controversy can make for a more interesting class than just setting out “the truth.” Some people say that among scientists there really is no controversy about the basics of Darwinism, and they are largely correct. But a large number–perhaps a majority!–of Americans think the scientists are wrong. That tells me that you have to deal with them.

    And there’s an irony here. If students passively memorize what the professor says and spit it back on the test a few months later, they will probably forget it afterwards. Their prior beliefs will stay the same. But if they have to analyze them and confront them with evidence,
    their beliefs may change.

  14. Roger Sweeney wrote – twice:

    A problem because it is largely a criticism of Darwinism.

    No, it isn’t. ID is just Creationism with makeup. The “criticisms” that ID proponents make of evolution are tendentious, to say the least. “Fraudulant” would probably be a more apt description and ID has no more place in public education then global warming, species and resource depletion and for about the same reason.

    But a large number–perhaps a majority!–of Americans think the scientists are wrong.

    How nice. Should we be thankful that a large number–perhaps a majority!– of Americans don’t believe that gravity is just a pretty good idea and not the law.

    In science, as even a cursory study of the history of science proves, one person with a theory that explains the observed phenomenon and generates verifiable predictions, is all the majority that’s necessary.

    Unfortunately, a public education system’s other major role is a constant temptation to every idealogue who wants the young’uns raised up so they know what’s right and don’t ask a lot of embarressing questions.

  15. Roger,

    ID makes no predictions – it merely argues that things are so complicated that they must have an intelligent creator.

    My question to IDers is always, how do you know that evolution isn’t the process God designed to create the universe? Could this long incremental process be the one that was chosen because it works?

    The reason people who believe in ID find evolution threatening is that it contradicts the literal truth of the bible and threatens their salvation through Christ’s death on the cross. I understand why they feel so strongly about this but the bottom line is that you can’t test ID because you can’t test God – both science and the bible agree on this point.

    If you are religious, you realize that there is no way to test ID because you would need to observe a universe without a creator and look for evolution there and we can’t do that.

    If you are an atheist, you realize that there is no way to test ID because you would need to observe a universe with a creator and look for a creation process and we can’t do that.

    If you are an agnostic, you have a lot of extra time on Sunday to ponder these things.

    Bottom line – there are no controls and we cannot do the experiment.

    My biology teacher in high school approached this in a clever and interesting way. He talked about spontaneous generation and the experiments that Pasteur used to show that the theory of spontaneous generation was false. But we never debated creationism in class because it is not a scientific theory and there are no experiments you can do to test it. ID is philosophy. Evolution is science.

    As for people not believing in Darwinism, I would be the first to admit that Darwin did not explain everything. He didn’t know what the unit of selection was, didn’t know about genes and he ideas about the gradual nature of evolutionary processes have been successfully challenged by punctuated equilibrium enthusiasts like Steven Jay Gould.

    That said, evolution is at the heart of biology and is supported by physics, chemistry and geology. Whether or not people believe in evolution is beside the point. People do not construct the natural universe out of their beliefs of what is or is not true. For example most people, when asked, still can’t tell you if the Earth revolves around the sun or vice versa. And yet we continue to orbit. If you get hit by lightning, whether or not you believe in electrons, you will find it a shocking experience.

    The universe is. Scientists observe and test it. That is the limit (and the beauty) of science. Anyone who disputes this has a philosophical axe to grind.

  16. ragnarok says:

    Theories in science are testable and falsifiable, but no amount of testing can prove that it’s correct. We can only disprove them (and look for better ones).

    So getting hit by lightning doesn’t prove the existence of electrons, but the fact that we can explain lightning (sort of!) by means of electrons increases our faith that the model isn’t completely wrong.