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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'What’s the anti-racist perspective on the atomic mass of boron?'

California's 116 community colleges, open to all at very low cost, represent the best version of diversity, equity, and inclusion, writes Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic. The state's DEI rules for community college instructors represent the worst.

Students in Berkeley City College's chemistry lab

Bureaucrats are mandating policies that "trample on free speech while coercing instructors on how to teach their subjects, which scholarly conclusions to reach, and even what political positions to advocate," he writes.

The revised education code calls for evaluating community-college employees on their “antiracist” and “DEIA competencies,” Friedersdorf writes. (A stands for “accessibility.”) Professors will be hired, promoted and given tenure based "on their embrace of controversial social-justice concepts as those concepts are understood and defined by state education bureaucrats."

“How am I supposed to incorporate DEI into my classroom instruction?" asks Bill Blanken, a chemistry professor who's one of six plaintiffs in a First Amendment lawsuit filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. "What’s the ‘anti-racist’ perspective on the atomic mass of boron?," he asks.

The implementation guidelines define "competency" as zeal in promoting DEI and anti-racist pedagogy, advocating for DEI and anti-racist goals and initiatives and articulating the importance and impact of DEI and anti-racism as part of the college's mission.

Another guidance document warns faculty: “Take care not to ‘weaponize’ academic freedom … or inflict curricular trauma.”

“The government is forcing professors to teach and preach a politicized viewpoint they do not share, imposing incomprehensible guidelines, and threatening to punish professors when they cross an arbitrary, indiscernible line," charged Daniel Ortner, the attorney for the six professors, in a press release. “These regulations are a totalitarian triple-whammy.”

The Institute for Free Speech has filed another lawsuit on behalf of Daymon Johnson, a history professor.

Friedersdorf asks progressives to imagine Gov. Ron DeSantis requiring Florida professors to "be evaluated for hiring and tenure based on whether they promote, advocate for, and articulate the importance of color blindness and the positive impact of anti-communism."

The community college system set measurable goals, such as "close racial disparities in graduation rates in 10 years," in its Vision for Success report, writes Friedersdorf. That's passe. A more recent report calls for "a moral value placed on systemwide diversity efforts that represent a social justice perspective.” Who can measure that?

There's no evidence that a DEIA mindset -- remember Professor Harold Hill's "think system" for learning music? -- improves teaching or learning, he adds. It's a pious hope.

Under the old faculty contract, instructors were evaluated for their "demonstrated ability to successfully teach students from cultures other than one’s own," the FIRE lawsuit notes. “Under the DEIA Rules, however, they are now evaluated on their ‘demonstration of, or progress toward, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) related competencies and teaching and learning practices that reflect DEIA and anti-racist principles.’”

5 commenti

16 ott 2023

The supply of racism is so low that the grievance society has to create some from whole cloth.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
16 ott 2023

Let's hope the lawsuits succeed, and that the courts remedy the offence by breaking up the state community college system, so that more local regions can hire junior college instructors on terms they see fit, including a less political, more professional evaluation system in their contracts.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
17 ott 2023
Risposta a

I am willing to proceed with a plan for the regionalization of education in California, if we can gather enough support

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