First amendment issues in the contentious #edreform debates #highered

I’m watching another Piers Morgan gun debate on CNN. I was reminded of this:

Moreover, James Tracy asserts in radio interviews and on his that trained “crisis actors” may have been employed by the Obama administration in an effort to shape public opinion in favor of the event’s true purpose: gun control.

“As documents relating to the Sandy Hook shooting continue to be assessed and interpreted by independent researchers, there is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends,” writes Tracy, a tenured associate professor of media history at FAU and a former union leader.

So, a ten-year professor, probably at the associate level, made a statement on a blog about certain “political ends” related to the Sandy Hook shooting. Wow. I’d say those are controversial statements. How’s his University responding? Well, they’re distancing themselves from the actual comments, but beyond that:

“The only way that a university would have a right to tone it down, or insist he stop talking about it, is if students come to him and say they find it disturbing,” said Shibley. “People are allowed to talk about things that are upsetting — for example, abortion.”

Absolutely. So, remember this. There are folks out there right now, qualified academics, teachers, and others, who are losing their jobs or being silenced, because they have the temerity to offer opposing views to something as innocuous-seeming as curriculum, or testing. 

Can we please gather some perspective here? These debates should happen, must happen, and will continue happening. The dialogue will proliferate online as more platforms and options of communication are created. The “big journals” that most faculty members value are already diminishing in their influence. Very few actual educators jump right to Teachers College Record or The Journal of [insert subjet area here] for the best, most accessible information in fields like education, where there is a significant practitioner workforce desperately needing good information without jargon.

Assert your rights to intellectual debate at every turn. Otherwise, we de-intellectualize the conversation immediately and get nowhere.