Wednesday, March 01, 2017
A bill in the Iowa Senate seeks to achieve greater political diversity among professors at the state's Board of Regents universities. Senate File 288 would institute a hiring freeze until the number of registered Republicans and Democrats on the university faculty fall within 10 percent of each other.This proposal is, paradoxically, as dangerous as it is ineffective. The danger lies in the precedent of aggravating a problem indirectly created by government control of education -- by explicitly setting up the government in the role of ideological monitor. (I suspect that even today, a court might strike that down, but to test that assumption is to play with fire.) The ineffectiveness should be obvious even to its sponsors: Current and prospective faculty could just change party affiliations -- not that there is any substantive difference between the two, if this measure is any indication.
"I'm under the understanding that right now they can hire people because of diversity," said the bill's author, Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa. "They want to have people of different thinking, different processes, different expertise. So this would fall right into category with what existing hiring practices are." [link omitted, bold added]
Is the GOP cynical or oblivious regarding education and freedom of speech? Regardless of the answer, we now know they don't have any serious ideas about freeing the former or protecting the latter.
3-2-17: Please read the first comment below about a similar (but far superior) proposal from Ayn Rand regarding the problem of ideological conformity in higher education. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a link to the whole proposal (other than a bootleg copy I will not vouch for).