A Commission, Eh?

September 21, 2005

Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed is reporting that the U.S. Department of Education is setting up a blue-ribbon panel to remedy the nation’s lack of a “comprehensive national strategy for postsecondary education.” According to Lederman, the panel is going to focus on “such issues as student access, college prices, and how well the higher education system is ‘preparing our students to compete in the new global economy.’” That’s all well and good, but isn’t there another important issue the higher education establishment might like to explore—that being, of course, whether colleges and universities are honoring individual rights? One would think this would be especially important with public universities, which are arms of the state and therefore legally obliged to respect the Constitution.
As FIRE continually points out, our institutions of higher learning are plagued with Orwellian speech codes, which are unconstitutional at every single public university. And as Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling says in the article, fully one third of higher education spending comes from the government. What a farce it is that taxpayer dollars are literally being spent on censorship! And what could be a better use of the government’s time than making sure its own money isn’t spent to trash the Bill of Rights?
FIRE President David French said something very similar to that to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday. David was invited to give the lead testimony before a select committee on higher education, and his testimony was all about how Pennsylvania’s public universities are engaging in illegal activity—that is, enacting speech codes and engaging in censorship that contravenes the Constitution. Keep watching FIRE’s website for updates on that.